VISITA IGLESIA. The Catholic faithful flock to the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila on Maundy Thursday (April 6, 2023) to pray and recite the Stations of the Cross. Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition during Holy Week which involves visiting 7 or 14 churches to pray or meditate on the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)


With the celebration of Holy Week, various traditions practiced in the country resurfaced, especially now with the easing of most Covid-19 restrictions.

However, it seems that many are forgetting the real message of the occasion, the ‘mandatum’ or command left by Jesus Christ himself, of loving one another without expecting anything in return, and serving others with a humble heart.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, Catholic priest Fr. Andiy Egargo noted that Holy Week, which is originally a Catholic tradition, is now being observed by other Christian communities, with Holy Thursday as the beginning of the three days of Paschal Triduum.

“The three days within the Paschal Triduum are Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter (from Easter vigil to Easter Sunday). Paschal Triduum commemorates the saving event for the whole of humanity through the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ,” Fr. Andiy said.

He said that on Holy Thursday, there are two important events being commemorated — the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Orders, and the Institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

The word “maundy” (Maundy Thursday), Fr. Andiy explained, comes from the Latin word ‘mandatum’ which means command.

The mandatum, from the scriptures of John 13:15 reads: “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

The Holy Thursday Liturgy ends with the “transfer” of the Blessed Sacrament or the consecrated hosts to the “Altar of Repose.”

In the tradition of most Filipino Catholics, this Altar of Repose is the place where people visit and pray during the Visita Iglesia.

On the evening of the Holy Thursday, right after the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples, the rite of the washing of the feet takes place inside the church.

This act symbolizes “serving with humility” as when Jesus Christ himself washed the feet of his disciples.

With the commemoration of the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ, Fr. Andiy said that the universal call for all of us is to stay humble and practice selfless love – love without expecting anything in return – the same love that God has for us.