Reviving “Visita Iglesia” within Bermuda
By Yarril Nangcas
Stations of the Cross, or Via Crucis in Latin, refers to the depiction of the final hours of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. The tradition, as chapel devotion, began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It is commonly done during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday. In some cases, the faithful carry out this tradition by visiting one or more stations in each church. This is referred to as Visita Iglesia or “Church Visits”. This practice goes back to the time of the early church where Christians would visit the seven great basilicas in Rome for the adoration of the
Blessed Sacrament during Maundy Thursday. These churches are: The Saint John Lateran; St. Peter; Saint Mary Major; Saint Paul Outside the Walls; St. Lawrence Outside the Walls; Holy Cross in Jerusalem; and, St. Sebastian Outside the Walls. The last was replaced by Pope John Paul II with the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Divine Love in 2000.
On Good Friday, April 10, 2009, Couples for Christ (CFC) Bermuda organized a Visita Iglesia to all the Roman Catholic Churches in Bermuda. More than 40 CFC members and non-members participated in the pilgrimage. Sister Mot Saliba and Brother Louie Cuarentas coordinated the group’s transportation for the activity. Because of the shortage of private cars, the group engaged for a mini-bus service to drive 28 of the participants to each of the Catholic Church in the Island.
The activity started at 8am with the first two stations of the Way of the Cross at St. Michael's Church, Paget, followed by three stations each at: St. Anthony's Church, Warwick; St. Joseph's Church, Somerset; Stella Maris Church, St. George's; and, St. Patrick's Church, Smith’s. The participants had a potluck picnic for lunch at Victoria Park in Hamilton before heading to their last stop of the 15 Stations of the Cross, which ended right before the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion celebrated at the St. Theresa's Cathedral in Hamilton.
CFC expresses its sincerest thanks to the organizers and the participants for making the pilgrimage a success and to God for keeping the participants safe during the long drive to the six churches.