Pilgrimage to the Holy Doors in the Philippines

Just finished last week our pilgrimage to the Holy Doors in 5 churches within Metro Manila. It was a pilgrimage that started on Good Friday this year and completed almost a week ago. It was a promise our family made, to complete the 5 churches as identified in the Pilgrimage Passport we got.

The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy 

Pope Francis declared 2015-2016 as the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, a call to all Catholics to experience “a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective” (Letter of Pope Francis to Archbishop Rino Fischella, 1 September 2015). The jubilee year would run from December 8 last year until November 20 this year. On a jubilee year, the pope opens the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica that would allow pilgrims to extraordinary graces.

What makes this this year special is that instead of confining pilgrims to the Holy Door in Rome, Pope Francis made the “Door of Mercy” accessible to selected churches around the world. This makes it available for pilgrims who do not have the time or means to come to Rome to enjoy the indulgences attached to it. It is mercy in action!

The Holy Doors in the Philippines

In the country, Filipino Catholic Bishops have designated the Holy Doors for several churches in the country. A list of these churches can be found through this link. For my family, we made our way to the Manila Cathedral where we would soon find out that a pilgrim passport was available for those wishing to complete the pilgrimage seriously.

The Pilgrimage Passport

The Pilgrimage Passport is a small, purple passport that pilgrims use to accompany them to their pilgrimage. It explains the purpose of the passport and the conduct that should be performed by the faithful to each of the 5 churches. For this particular passport (I am not sure if the other dioceses in the provinces have their own passport), it has identified 5 churches (Manila Cathedral in Intramuros; Our Lady of Sorrows Parish Church in Pasay City; Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Kamagong, Makati City; Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Mandaluyong; and the Santuario de Santo Cristo in San Juan).

Pilgrim passport

Each church has its own procedure, so you have to read the instructions well. After the pilgrim recites the required prayers and completes the process, he goes to the church parish office to have his passport stamped.

The passport is available at any of the 5 churches mentioned. After completion of all the churches, you may request for your certificate at the last church. They will issue a very nice certificate stamped with a picture of Pope Francis.

As part of our Lenten sacrifice, we made our way to Manila Cathedral, but was dismayed to learn that they ran out of passports then. We went to the next church in Mandaluyong, where we were able to get our passports and the first stamp.

Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Mandaluyong City

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Since it was a Holy Week, you can imagine how the church was swamped with people. We finished the first church after more than 2 hours.

Second Church: Manila Cathedral

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Holy Door at the Manila Cathedral

By the time we continued with the remaining churches last week, the pilgrims were already a lot less. But still, it was a Sunday and we were pleased to find company in all of the Holy Doors we went to. God is so good, our trip was blessed with sunny weather after almost a whole week of rain.

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Our passport stamp

Third Church: Santuario de Santo Cristo, San Juan City

Among the churches we went to, this was the one that was most difficult to go to. First is because San Juan was practically unchartered for us. Second, not a lot of available directions going to this church is available. You can read the map but doesn’t mean it’ll be any easy. We took the Sta. Mesa route and turned right to the corner of SM Sta. Mesa. This road led us to San Juan. When you find Puregold to your right, that’s where F. Blumentritt is. You turn right and drive straight ahead until you find the church.

We did expect to find a beautiful old church within the heart of this city! The church was built by Dominican friars in 1602.

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Our stamp and some of the prayer guides we recited at the church

By the time we finished Santuario de Santo Cristo, it was already high noon. We took our lunch at the tapsi resto nearby.

Fourth Church: National Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Makati City

 

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The National Shrine of the Sacred Heart, dwarfed by tall buildings

By the time we arrived in Makati, it almost 1pm. The church was still full of people as they had mass at 12 noon. It was not my first time to get inside this church, but I was surprised to find it was air-conditioned. We spotted former Mayor Junjun Binay among the attendees.

Last Church: Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pasay City

Our last stop was in this church along FB Harrison in Pasay. If you’re coming from Coastal, you turn right at FB Harrison going to Pasay. Not far away from the corner is the church. In this church was were we said our rosaries and had certificates done. We were so happy and blessed to have finished it! It was a happy day for us.

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This church was constructed by the Society of St. Paul

Some helpful tips:

  • The jubilee year of mercy is only until 20 November 2016. There is still time to complete it, but expect pilgrims will be many as the period comes to a close.
  • Plan your visits well. It would be best to prioritize Manila Cathedral, since their parish office is only available in the morning. Check the schedules of each church.
  • Wear comfortable and decent clothing. Remember that this is not like going to the mall. Wear clothing that shows reverence for our Lord. Bring extra clothing.
  • Bring water. It can get humid.
  • Bring rosaries. In the parish of Our Lady of Sorrows, you have the option to either pray the rosary or the 7 Sorrows of Mary. We chose to recite the former.
  • Follow the instructions carefully. Do not shortcut. Remember that our good Lord sees us in all our undertakings.
  • Make it more meaningful by offering each visit to an intention, for example, one church for the souls in Purgatory, another church for good health of one’s family, etc.

Have a blessed weekend.

 

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