IT'S Semana Santa or Holy Week in the Philippines. A time for reflection and repentance. The season reminds Catholics of the Passion of Christ and His unconditional love for everyone.

In the Philippines, there are a lot of traditions and practices that commemorate the sacrifices of Jesus that led to his death and resurrection. One of them is the Visita Iglesia, where the faithful visit different churches in their area and pray at the 14 stations of the cross.

Cebu, the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines, is home to some of the most beautiful churches in the country. During Holy Week, these churches become a popular pilgrimage site for both locals and tourists.

Here are 8 must-visit churches in Cebu during Holy Week:

1. Basílica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu

Located in the heart of Cebu City, the Basilica is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the Philippines. It houses the image of the Santo Niño, a religious relic that is venerated by millions of Filipinos.

2. Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

Another stunning cathedral worth visiting is the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, which is directly across from the Basilica del Santo Niño. The Archdiocese of Cebu has maintained its headquarters there ever since it was constructed in the 16th century.

3. Santo Rosario Parish Church

This church, located on Pantaleon del Rosario Street, Cebu City, was established in 1933. It holds Mass and confessions regularly. Despite being situated in one of the city’s busiest areas, the place is perfect for people to contemplate.

4. Simala Shrine

This church, located in the town of Sibonga, is known for its miraculous statue of the Our Lady of Lindogon. It has become a popular pilgrimage site for devotees who believe in its healing powers.

5. Nuestra Señora de Regla National Shrine

Located in Lapu-Lapu City, this church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rule of Birhen sa Regla, the patroness of fishermen. It is one of the most popular churches in Cebu and is known for its stunning architecture.

6. Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu

This church, located in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City, is dedicated to the Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is known for its beautiful façade and its unmissable bell tower.

7. Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes

Photo courtesy of Lourdes Shrine Cebu Facebook page

Situated in Punta Princesa, Cebu City, this church is known for its unique 18 meter-high concrete parabolic shell and beautiful altar.

8. Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Catherine of Alexandria

This church, located in the town of Carcar, is known for its beautiful Baroque-style architecture. With its basilica form and mixed architectural styles, it is a stunning example of historical and cultural fusion. The separate convent building, with its indigenous bahay na bato characteristics, adds to the complex's unique charm.

Cebu is home to some of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines. Visiting these churches during Holy Week is not only a religious experience but also a chance to appreciate the history and architecture of these sacred places. (JGS)