Faith defenders to go pilgrimage

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SAN JUAN City, March 21, 2014—In keeping with Lenten tradition, a group of Catholic apologists will be having a day tour of “significant and old” churches in Pampanga on Saturday, March 29.

“The pilgrimage we are organizing seeks to strengthen and deepen the faith of each participant,” Defensores Fidei Foundation (DFF) co-founder and chair Henry Siy stressed.

Pilgrims stops

“But what sets this apart from the usual pilgrimages is that this one emphasizes meditation and reflection… As such, the holy rosary will be playing a key role in our pilgrimage,” he added.

On their way to Pampanga and back, the pilgrims will be encouraged to “meditate and reflect” with the help of Conventual Franciscan (OFM Conv.) friar Dominic Lim. They will also be given insights as to the significance of religious pilgrimages to Christians in a short lecture to be facilitated by lawyer and Catholic apologist  Atty. Marwil Llasos.

DFF decided to hold their pilgrimage in Pampanga this year because the apologists’ spiritual adviser, San Fernando Archbishop Paciano B. Aniceto, might be retiring soon.

The pilgrimage itinerary will be covering the churches of San Pedro in Apalit, Santa Monica in Minalin, San Guillermo in Bacolor, Santiago Apostol and Inmaculada Concepción in Guagua, and San Agustín and Santa Cruz in Lubao. It will also include a guided tour of these churches during which pilgrims can learn about important background information on the churches’ history and architecture.

Ancient Christian practice

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, going on pilgrimages is a custom as old as the Church itself. Historical records prove that early Christians made it a point to visit sites associated with Christ’s ministry. An early example of Christian pilgrimage is that of Origen Adamantius, a renowned 3rd century Church Father, who, “in search of the traces of Jesus, the disciples and the prophets” got help from locals in allegedly finding the actual location of the “Gadarene Swine”.

On March 29, the Defensores Fidei pilgrims are set to visit the Santa Monica Parish Church, built in 1721 in the Baroque style. The Minalin Church has since been declared a “National Cultural Treasure” by the Philippine government. (Photo courtesy: John A. Balatbat)

Pilgrimages became popular practice with the encouragement of St. Jerome and were established by the time of Queen Helena who, traditions have it, recovered the “True Cross” during her visit to the Holy Land.

Outside the Holy Land and Rome, the world’s most popular Christian pilgrimage sites are the churches of Lourdes, Notre Dame de Paris, and the Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux in France, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Loreto and Assisi in Italy, Fatima in Portugal, Cologne in Germany, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico.

The Philippines also has a number of well-visited pilgrimage sites among which are the churches of Baclaran, Quiapo, San Agustín, La Naval in Metro Manila, Antipolo in Rizal, Manaoag in Pangasinan, Piat in Cagayan, Peñafrancia in Camarines Sur, and the Minor Basilica of Santo Niño in Cebu.

DFF has been conducting religious pilgrimages since 2012 in pious observance of the Lenten season. In 2012 and 2013, they visited the provinces of Batangas and Laguna, respectively, where they visited churches, shrines, and sites deemed miraculous like the one in Caysasay, Taal.

For inquiries and reservations, contact Henry Siy at 723-4326 or0917-8260-047. (Raymond A. Sebastián)


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