3 Manila churches for Visita Iglesia

Posted at 04/17/14 8:57 AM

MANILA -- It has been a tradition for Catholics to visit popular churches outside the metro, but with the amount of people doing the same, some prefer to stay in the capital to avoid traffic and the crowds.

This week's episode of "Cityscape" featured different churches in Metro Manila that Catholics can visit this Holy Week. Aside from praying, they can also get a glimpse of the beauty and elegance of these old churches that have been part of the country's history.

The Philippines is home to 12 minor basilicas, which can be found in different parts of the country.

The Basilica of Saint Sebastian in Quiapo was built in 1621 and was elevated to basilica in 1890. It is the oldest basilica in the country and was designated as a national historical landmark.

The basilica is home to five altars, the main altar dedicated to Nuestra Señora del Carmen.

Its stained glass windows depict Bible stories and messages of light, making the basilica one of the best models of colonial art and architecture in the country.

From Quiapo, one can go straight to the heart of Chinatown to find the Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo.

The basilica, popularly known as Binondo Church, was built in 1590s for Chinese converts. It was then elevated to basilica on July 23, 1992.

When the Spaniards came to the Philippines, the Chinese migrated to the country because there was a need for traders. As their numbers grew, the Dominican priests decided to convert the Chinese, and build a church for them.

The current structure, except for its five-storey Chinese-inspired bell tower, has been rebuilt after the original structure was torn down by wars and natural disasters.

The basilica is also known for the Stations of the Cross and mysteries of the rosary painted on the entire ceiling.

At present, the Chinese community continues to fund the renovation and maintenance of the basilica.

Known as Quiapo Church, the Basilica of the Black Nazarene is one of the most popular destinations for Catholics in Manila. It was elevated to basilica on December 11, 1987.

Catholics flock to the basilica all year round to pray to the miraculous image of the Black Nazarene.

Ever since it was first constructed, the basilica has survived different tragedies, such as a fire in 1639, an earthquake in 1863, and another fire in 1928.

It has also developed from the original bamboo and nipa palm structure, to stone and wood, to the present structure.

Just like its devotees, the Basilica of the Black Nazarene is proof of the Filipinos' faith and steadfastness.