Next week is Holy Week for Roman Catholics and while many will take advantage of the holidays to go Boracay or Puerto Galera, you might want to swing by Antipolo Cathedral on a pilgrimage instead. Like the Manaoag Shrine in Pangasinan, the cathedral in Antipolo City is a popular pilgrimage site especially since it’s just outside Metro Manila and sits on the cool mountains of Antipolo. This is why the Antipolo City has dubbed itself the “Pilgrimage City” of the country. The faithful trek to Antipolo Cathedral en masse on two occasions every year: during Holy Week and on April 30, on the eve of the Antipolo May Festival.
The Antipolo Cathedral is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antipolo, which covers the whole province of Rizal and the City of Marikina in Metro Manila. It is a National Shrine housing the image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje), also known as the Virgin of Antipolo. According to history, this dark wooden image of the Virgin Mary was brought along in 1626 by Juan Niño de Tabora from New Spain (Mexico) to the Philippines where would take his new position in Manila as Governor-General. He attributed his safe arrival to the Philippines to the intercession of Mary and had an elaborate celebration upon his arrival in honor of the Virgin (thus giving the statue its name). The statue was turned over to the Jesuits after Tabora’s death and it was housed in the church in Antipolo where it has stayed, more or less, to the present day.
I went to Antipolo last year and passed by the Cathedral, but since it was already nighttime, I didn’t went inside. It’s too bad since the Cathedral has a nice distinctive architecture that’s noticeably different from the more traditional churches and cathedrals with their vaulted ceilings and towering spires. The central attraction of the Cathedral is a large domed roof that’s quite visible in Google Maps. Funnily, unlike other domed churches like the U.P. Diliman Chapel and the Greenbelt Chapel where the altar is at the center of the congregation, the altar at Antipolo is at one side of the circle.
One of the last projects of the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin was to have a visible pilgrimage trail for the faithful going from Quiapo Church in Manila to the Antipolo Cathedral. The result is The Way of Mary which consists of 20 small bas-relief markers consisting of a sculpture mounted on a 4’x6’ pedestal and spread along Ortigas Avenue in Quezon City and Pasig and its extension into Cainta and then the road going to the Antipolo Cathedral. These sculptures depict the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, which consists of 20 events in the lives of Jesus and Mary grouped into the Joyous, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous1 mysteries. These sculptures were designed by Nemiranda, whose Crucified Christ sculpture I featured before, and the pedestals were architected by Joey Amistos. The first marker, depicting the Annunciation, is found at the EDSA Shrine in Ortigas and was blessed by Cardinal Sin in 2005 (he also blessed the last one in Antipolo). Unfortunately, he died before he can finish blessing the rest of the markers (read the news article).
I’ve seen a few of these markers, but they’re too small to be seen in Google Maps. Hmmm, I think it would make for a great Google Map mashup to mark the locations of all 20 markers, don’t you think?
Info/pictures about the Antipolo Cathedral elsewhere:
- From an Antipolo City website – history of the church
- From the Sassy Lawyer – pictures
- From the Pinoy Travel Blog – candid account of the tradition of having new cars blessed at the Cathedral for safe travel
1 For those clueless Catholics, the Luminous mysteries are an optional addition promulgated by Pope John Paul II.