Visita Iglesia is a Holy Week practice where Catholics visit and pray in 14 churches (7 at the very least) which represent the 14 Stations of the Cross and to honor the Blessed Sacrament. It is usually done on Maundy Thursday after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
And these are seven of Abra’s churches you can visit during the Holy Week.
The church was built in 1722 and was completed in 1807. After 270 years of secular administration, Bangued was returned to the Augustinians in 1892. After the bombing of Bangued on March 10, 1945, during World War II, only the church walls, convent, and tower remained standing. Reconstruction of the roof and altar and installation of electric organ started in 1947. On July 25, 1955, The church of Bangued was proclaimed a cathedral.
La Paz was founded in 1832 by Fr. Bernardo Lago, OSA. Fr. Lorenzo Juan, his co-founder came from Pidigan. A temporary church and school were built in the very first years. A stone church was blessed in La Paz as early as June 8, 1911. Christian families from Ilocos Sur and La Union were then brought in by Fr. Lago and Fr. Juan to the newly founded parish of Nuestra Señora de La Paz.
The church was constructed in the early 1800s and is an excellent specimen of Spanish architecture and masonry. The old but resilient walls of the church which are made of bricks, river stone, and lime mortar are even harder than many new concrete buildings of these days. The church was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2001.
In 1912, when Fr. Enrique Buerschen, SVD, built a chapel with wood structure, sawali walls, and cogon roof near the “small convento”. The chapel though was too small and often floods, so he built a larger and sturdier church on the spot where Tinguians used to offer their chicken and young pigs to the spirits. The church, which was only covered with nipa, was roofed with corrugated iron sheets in 1921 and a two-storey school building was also built.
Fr. Juan de Mata, diocesan parish priest started the construction of the church around 1863. A number of Augustinian friars took over the parish and inherited the unfinished church which they all tried finish but failed to do so. A revolution broke out in 1898 and when the Divine Word Missionaries came, the construction of the church was finally completed.
The parish of Peñarrubia was built in 1919 with Fr. Theodore Buttenbruch, SVD, parish priest of Bangued who was also taking care of Peñarrubia. He then built a small church out of bamboo. Later on, an old convent was built from funds through a popularity contest. In 1961, when Rev. Carlos Puetz, SVD, was installed as parish priest, he started the Little Flower High School with 46 first-year students.
A church and rectory was built in Pidigan in 1824 by Fr. Bernardo Lago, OSA, one of the greatest missionaries who arrived in Abra on May 14, 1823. He convinced a lot of people to become Christians after so many difficulties. The church, however, went up in flames sometime in 1879 or 1880 during Christmas night. The church had been rebuilt twice by Fr. Jose Foj after it was burnt down anew. Fr. Cayetano Pe Benito took care of Pidigan in 1904-1906 when the church and convent were later on destroyed by a typhoon. In 1919, some repairs were made and in 1924, the church was roofed with corrugated sheets and the convent restored.