Touring Albay's churches through Visita Iglesia

ALBAY, Philippines – It’s the time of the year when the Filipino Catholic faithful show their devotion by observing Holy Week traditions. One of these acts of piety is Visita Iglesia, where they visit, pray, and reflect on the Passion of Christ.

Since it involves visiting at least 7 churches, Visita Iglesia is also an opportunity to discover the different patrons of the churches. Often, the Catholic Encyclopedia said, these are canonized saints, assigned by venerable tradition or chosen by election. Either way, Catholic Online said, they serve as special protectors or guardians over areas of community life.

Here are the patron saints of Catholic churches in the province of Albay.

Saint Gregory the Great Parish, Albay

Saint Gregory the Great is the popular name of Pope Gregory I. An entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica said, he helped regain papal authority through excellent administration and reforms.

His preference for a  monastic life and emphasis on missionary work influenced his win-win approach: exercising both secular and spiritual power.

His feast day is September 3. He is the patron saint of musicians, singers, students, and teachers.

Saint Raphael Parish, Legazpi City (Port Area) and Manito

The New World Encyclopedia described Saint Raphael as the archangel whose name means 'God heals.' The Prayer Book of Litanies said Saint Raphael was credited for restoring the vision of Tobiah (son of Tobit) and for keeping Sarah (Tobiah's future wife) safe from evils. They met through Saint Raphael.

Saint Raphael is credited as the patron of healing and happy meetings. His feast day is September 29.

Saint Jude Parish, Legazpi City

An online novena to Saint Jude, the patron of lost causes, said he is sometimes called Thaddeus. It said it was inspired by his eagerness to preach the Gospel in difficult circumstances. He was one of the original apostles of Jesus and later worked on evangelization. His feast day is October 28.

Our Lady of the Gate Parish, Daraga

According to the Daraga parish church website, Our Lady of the Gate, or Nuestra Señora de la Porteria, is the title of the Blessed Virgin Mary that originated in the 18th century with Franciscan lay brother Luis de San Jose.

Daraga Church was dedicated by Franciscan friars to him. He claimed he saw the Virgin Mary in a flood and she saved him. Since then he has venerated her drawn image and spread devotion to it. The lobby of the convent where it is displayed is now called Spanish Porteria. Her feast day is September 8.

St. John the Baptist Church in Tabaco.

Photo courtesy of Jemn Dimaculangan

Saint John the Baptist Churches, Camalig and Tabaco City

For parishioner and UST-Legazpi senior high school graduate John Barry Nasayao, Saint John the Baptist championed the truth throughout his life while preaching and baptizing in the Jordan River.

Nasayao says, Saint John the Baptist invites us to uphold and echo what is morally right in all aspects of our life. “Because when we always head to what is right, we are directing ourselves to the truth who is Jesus Christ himself and his Gospel,” he added. The feast day of Saint John the Baptist June 24.

Our Lady of Assumption Parish, Guinobatan

Our Lady of Assumption is also a Catholic Church title for the Virgin Mary. The University of Dayton website said, Pius XII dogmatically defined this as the Church teaching that at the end of her journey on earth, ‘Mary was assumed into heavenly glory, body and soul.’ Her feast day is August 15.

Here's a video Visita Iglesia presented by the Society of St. Paul Philippines - Macau of 7 churches of the Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres. 



Saint Stephen Protomartyr Parish, Ligao

Saint Stephen is among the first deacons of the Christian Church, and its first martyr, said the Catholic Online. He was trustworthy and an excellent orator, that it threatened many of the Jews, leading to a false accusation and trial against him. But the trial did not deter him, and instead he used it as a platform to speak about God's mercy and how ungrateful people can be.

His criticism angered the people and stoned him to death. He is often represented with rocks on his head. His feast day is on December 26.

Saint Michael the Archangel Church, Oas

Michael the Archangel is the leader of all angels. His name means "who is like God," said the Catholic Encyclopedia. 

An article in Catholic Education Resource Center said, Saint Michael is often invoked in prayers for protection against the wicked. He represents the warrior that battles against all evils, making him the patron saint of soldiers, police, and doctors.  His feast day is on September 29.

Saint James the Greater Parish, Libon 

Saint James was one of the original apostles of Jesus and among the 3 witnesses of the transfiguration of Jesus. The word transfigured means to change form. The Christian social network, All about God, said, in the case of Jesus, it meant to change the outside to match the inside. It was during the transfiguration that Jesus displayed the glory of God incarnate in the Son.

The Encyclopedia Britannica said, Saint James went on to spread the Gospel of Jesus and died a martyr under the rule of King Herod. His feast day is July 25.

Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Polangui

Catholic Culture, run by non-profit company Trinity communications, described Saints Peter and Paul as the two original apostles of Jesus who are key players in the founding of the Church. They strengthened it, guided its course then, now, and beyond through preaching, ministry, and martyrdom. Their feast day is June 29.

Dominic de Guzman Parish, Sto. Domingo

Saint Dominic de Guzman is the founder of the Dominicans, a religious order with the universal mission of preaching. The Encyclopedia Britannica said his love for prayer, study, and community moved him to preach to all people, never minding the distance. The Dominicans reflect the spirituality of Christ the preacher and of the Apostles. His feast day is August 8.

FIRST SAINT. Saint Rose or Isabel Flores de Oliva, is the first saint from Western Hemisphere and patroness of the Bacacay church.

Photo courtesy of Jemn Dimaculangan

Saint Rose de Lima Parish, Bacacay

Saint Rose is Isabel Flores de Oliva, the first saint from Western Hemisphere. The Encyclopedia Britannica said although born wealthy, she chose to live a simple life – in recluse – and dedicated it to serving the sick and the hungry. She used her skill in embroidery, and flowers that she grew in her garden, to raise funds for the poor. Saint Rose lived with piety, chastity, and asceticism – all she exercised at a young age until her death. August 24 is her feast day.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Malilipot

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the patroness of the Carmelite Order whose devotion is centered on following the Marian life. This teaches us to follow not only her outward vesture but, in heart and spirit. A revered authority on Carmelite spirituality, thus considers it “a special call to the interior life, which is preeminently a Marian life.”

Our Lady of Mount Carmel website said the brown scapular, or the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is said to have been given by Mary to an early Carmelite named Saint Simon Stock. Her feast day is July 16.

Saint Lawrence the Martyr Church, Tiwi

Saint Lawrence was a deacon who died a martyr, among others, under the Valerian ruler in 258. The Saint Lawrence Catholic Church website said the Roman emperor ordered the persecution of Christians, including Pope Sixtus II whom Lawrence served as chief deacon. Saint Lawrence suffered a slow, cruel death for making the prefect furious: presenting the people as the church’s real treasure instead of the treasures, which the prefect believed were hidden. His feast day is August 10.

PATRONESS OF BICOL. Images of Our Lady of Salvation (left) and Our Lady of Peu00f1afrancia.

Photo courtesy of Vynce Opeu00f1a

Our Lady of Salvation Parish, Joroan and Pio Duran

Our Lady of Salvation is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary that was first venerated in Joroan in Tiwi, Albay. The devotion is centered on the wooden sculpture of the Marian image, which had been attributed with many miracles. A report in the Bicol Standard said, these reinforced the devotion to the image of Our Lady of Salvation, making Joroan Church (where it is enshrined) a holy pilgrimage site in Albay.

Two other statues were carved from the same Calpi tree: Saint Anthony of Padua and Our Lady of Solitude, both in Buhi in Camarines Sur, where Joroan used to be part of. In 1919, Tiwinhons agreed to have another parish for Our Lady of Salvation, the Albay patroness.

Saint Joachim Parish, Malinao

Saint Joachim, like his wife Saint Anne, received a vision of an angel announcing they would have a child after long years of waiting. The Encyclopedia Britannica said, when she was 3 years old, the couple presented Mary to the Temple of Jerusalem, in fulfillment of her divine promise. This is now an important church doctrine called the "Presentation of the Virgin Mary," with a liturgical feast every November 21.

Saint Florentine Parish, Rapu-Rapu

The Catholic Online said Saint Florentine belonged to a deeply-rooted Christian family: 3 of her brothers were bishops; while a sister founded a convent where she became its abbess. Saint Florentine lived with chastity and encouraged her all-female community to do the same. She and her brothers are all canonized saints. June 20 is her feast day.

Often, the location of a parish influences the choice patron. For instance, fishing villages will have Saint Andrew the Apostle (a fisherman) or Saint Raphael the archangel who is attributed to some miracles about fishing, according to Nasayao who is a  Philosophy student. 

Parishes also inherited the devotion of congregations (e.g. Franciscan) assigned to them, he added.

Father Wilmer Tria of Ateneo de Naga University Press reminds parishioners of their duty to nourish and promote devotion to their patron saints to others. –

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