Friday, April 18, 2014

Visita Iglesia on a Good Friday: San Agustin Parish

Wazzup Pilipinas!

It's time again for another Visita Iglesia adventure on a Good Friday. While some spend their long weekend at the beach, devotees seek serenity by doing the Visita Iglesia to contemplate on the Passion of Christ. It is the time of the year when the churches comes alive as Catholics from all over the country flock to their choice of churches.

Visita Iglesia is also known as the visitation of seven churches, but some would go beyond that number if time, and budget, permits. Also a weak knee, a sore feet and a hungry or thirsty stomach, could add to the factors necessary to decide whether to move on, rest for a while, or go back home and sleep.

We would normally start early morning, but a few days before we've already planned where to go and which church to go first. We'll have a list of churches on our schedule and sometimes a map if we are not familiar with the places we have selected for this year's Visita Iglesia.

For some, accomplishing the task of finishing all seven church visitations will reward the doer with a wish granted. Maybe the higher power above will hear our prayers for all the effort. But in my case, as a traveler, it is a pleasure to see the sights especially if we will be there for the very first time. Many of our churches are built with superb architecture worth capturing to share with readers of my blog. Plus, the thought that I was able to accomplish the strenuous task of going from one church to the next in just a day is highly rewarding enough for me.

We were on our way to the San Agustin Parish when we passed by a procession carrying the Black Nazarene. There were several devotees participating to what looks like a smaller version of the procession usually done in Quiapo. The outpouring of religious zeal has inspired many parishioners to be more creative in their festivities to celebrate the occasion.

Some barangay tanods from the local barangay of Bambang were on crowd control and patiently putting everyone in place.

The replica of the Black Nazarene can be seen in all churches, and they all do their own processions for many festivities including days before or durng the Vista Iglesia season.

But this particular Black Nazarene was not from the church we were scheduled to go to. We didn't joined the procession and only took some photos.

The San Agustin Parish or St. Augustine Parish is located in Market Avenue, Barangay Palatiw, Pasig just a few blocks away from the Pasig City Mega Market.

As a historical background, Saint Augustine (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430), Bishop of Hippo, in Algeria, was a philosopher and theologian. Augustine, a Latin Father and Doctor of the Church, is one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity. Augustine was radically influenced by Platonic doctrines. He framed the concepts of original sin and just war. When Rome fell and the faith of many Christians was shaken, Augustine developed the concept of the Church as a spiritual City of God, distinct from the material City of Man. His thought profoundly influenced the medieval worldview.

The Evangelization of the Philippines formally started with the coming of the Spanish Augustinians from Mexico in 1565.

Augustinians made an invaluable contribution to the material and cultural progress in the country. They helped revolutionize the cultivation of the agricultural products of the country and introduced from America and Asia; wheat, sugar, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes, and various fruits.

They directed the building of churches, schools, roads, channels for irrigation and organized the towns.

The Augustinians wrote grammars and dictionaries in Tagalog Capampangan, Ilocano, Hiligaynon and Cebuano as well as doctrinal and devotional books about history, where they recorded the life and mores of the Filipinos at the arrival of the Spaniards, books about flora and medicinal plants of the land.

The parish has two levels available to the public but the lower level is mainly used for meetings and other events, and the mass is being held at the second level where the altar is located.

When we arrived at the parish, we could see their Black Nazarene just near the entrance.

There were stairs leading to the second floor were mass are held, but at the time we got there the mass has already ended.


The image of Jesus Christ nailed on the cross was supposed to be covered in purple cloth but I think it must have loosened and revealed the image. Images are covered during Visita Iglesia because it has been the custom of the Roman Church to veil the crosses and the images of the saints from the 5th Sunday of Lent until Easter.

This has been one of the defining characteristics of the season of Passiontide – a season which, if after the postconciliar liturgical reforms lost in name, need not be lost in spirit.

As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday. The veiling of images is a sign of great mourning in times of death. Religious statues and images where covered in Good Friday because it signifies a total darkness where Christ is not present since he was crucified on the day.

The current practice of veiling the crosses and images of saints during Lent may have originated in the 10th or 11th century with the custom of “Hungertuch” (Hunger cloth or Lenten veil) in medieval England, France and Germany. Others would argue that this practice started in Germany in the 9th century.

Some of the images were covered in white cloth (I guess they may have ran out of purple cloths) but there were people still praying upon them. But some literature reveals that white can also be used as a cloth color.

Lent is a time to prepare ourselves, reflect, ask penance for our sins, pray and renew our relationship with God.

Throughout the day, the faithful observe the pious custom of Vista Iglesia as a centuries-old tradition that is worth accomplishing not just because you could probably get a favorable notice from the one above, but also because it is an opportunity to group together with friends, colleagues or relatives for a religious activity that could bring about better friendship and closer ties.

It is a highly recommended activity for the whole family to go on a Visita Iglesia and pray together in each of the churches that they visit to strengthen their bonds. Like they say, "the family that prays together, stay together....forever!"

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