Visit five Pangasinan heritage churches In this Marian pilgrim, Oct. 21

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Façade of Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag. The Shrine Parish of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag Our Lady of Manaoag was elevated to a Minor Basilica in 2014 by Pope Francis, two years after it became an affiliate of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome. Photo courtesy of Green Faith Travels.

On its sixth year as a noncommercial pilgrimage apostolate, Green Faith Travels celebrates the Holy Rosary month of October with a Marian pilgrimage of heritage churches in Pangasinan on October 21, visiting the Co-Cathedral of the Epiphany of the Lord in Lingayen founded in 1587 and four others considered among the oldest existing stone churches in the country.

Marian devotees joining its sixth Marian Pilgrimage of Faith and Heritage will seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother at the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag (1605), the most popular Marian pilgrimage site in the country, Our Lady of the Purification Parish Church in Binmaley (1627), and Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish Church in Mangaldan (1600).

They will also pray at the old Dagupan Cathedral (1614), known as the Church of Dagupan during the Spanish colonial period, and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist (1974), present seat of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. The old cathedral is now called Sanctuario de San Juan Evangelista since its complete restoration and consecration as a special sanctuary in 2001.

First named The Three Kings (Los Tres Reyes) but more popularly known as Lingayen Church, the Co-Cathedral of the Epiphany of the Lord and Saint Dominic De Guzman Parish Church in San Carlos are the oldest churches in the province. The Augustinians founded the Co-Cathedral 430 years ago or 14 years after they built the San Agustin Church in Intramuros.

Altar of Lingayen Church. The main altar of the Co-Cathedral of Epiphany of Our Lord Co-Cathedral (formerly Three Kings) in Lingayen. Built in 1710, the church is considered one of the best edifices in northern Luzon for its exceptional architecture. Photo courtesy of Green Faith Travels.

For the first time, pilgrims will also visit Urduja House (governor’s residence), Provincial Capitol, Sison Auditorium and Lingayen beach.

Pilgrimage fee of P3,500 per person covers round-trip transport via air-conditioned tourist bus, buffet breakfast and lunch, morning and afternoon snacks, all-day water and juice drinks, a pilgrim’s kit and church donations. Families and groups of friends with minimum four members will get a 10-percent discount if payment is made not later than Sept. 15.

Heritage churches
The present Lingayen church, built in 1710 and the seat of the Diocese of Lingayen starting in May 1928, is considered one of the best edifices in northern Luzon for its exceptional architecture. Heavily damaged during the Second World War, the dome of the church was designed by a famous missionary architect-priest, Father Miguel Aparicio, while its imposing “Oriental Pagoda-like bell tower” was influenced by the town’s Chinese heritage.

Its “Co-Cathedral” title was mandated by the Holy See after the seat of the diocese was transferred to Dagupan and the name of the See was changed to Lingayen-Dagupan in February 1954. Its “twin cathedral,” Saint John the Evangelist, is now the seat of the archdiocese.

The bell of Our Lady of Purification Parish Church in Binmaley, cast in 1804 and weighing 4,130 pounds, is one of the three biggest bells in the country. Now fully restored, the church was also destroyed during WWII but its walls and tower were only partly damaged.

Main altar of Our Lady of the Purification Parish Church. Simplicity marks the elegantly beautiful and spacious main altar of Our Lady of the Purification Parish Church in Binmaley. Photo courtesy of Green Faith Travels.

The Sanctuario de San Juan Evangelista, the restored old Dagupan Cathedral, is now a special “sanctuary” promoting the devotion to Saint John the Evangelist and a shrine for the daily adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. It is said that Dr. Jose Rizal’s former girlfriend, Leonor Rivera, wed an English railroad engineer named Henry Kipping here in 1890. Heavily damaged during the massive 7.7-magnitude earthquake that hit Luzon a hundred years later, the church underwent reconstruction and refurbishments under then Archbishop Oscar Cruz.

From a church with a beautiful tower made of bricks in 1600, the modern church of Saint Thomas Aquinas that stands today, complete with a towering belfry, was built starting in 1940, while its main altar, side retablos and ambo were renovated and blessed in March this year.

Main altar of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The altar table and the main altar were among the major renovations completed in March this year at Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish Church in Mangaldan. These and the two side retablos and ambo were made by Vitreartus Liturgical Arts.. Photo courtesy of Green Faith Travels.

Papal blessings, plenary indulgence
The Shrine Parish of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag was elevated to a Minor Basilica in 2014 by Pope Francis, two years after it became an affiliate of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Dagupan City was also granted the “Special Bond of Spiritual Affinity” in 2011 by the Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

The Catholic faithful who visit and pray at these churches will gain such spiritual benefits as obtaining Papal blessings and plenary indulgence or the remission before God of temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.

To gain plenary indulgence, one must be in a state of grace and has gone to confession, received Holy Communion, and prayed for the intentions of the Pope. It can be applied to oneself or to the souls of the deceased as an act of charity, but not to other living persons.

“During this Year of the Parish, we join the church in transforming the parish as a communion of communities as we create our own community of pilgrims through spiritual journeys while renewing our devotion to the Holy Rosary and imploring the help and guidance of our Blessed Mother,” said Green Faith Travels’ facilitator Edwin Galvez.

For inquiries, call (+63) 926-6152596; e-mail greenfaithtravels@gmail.com and greenfaithtravels@yahoo.com; Altar table and Main Altar of Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish Church (Two photos)