7 Churches To visit in Camarines Sur and Albay
On top of the delectable Bicol cuisine, warmth and hospitality of the Bicolanos, wakeboarding and ATV adventures, and the popular natural attractions such as the well-loved Caramoan Islands and Mayon Volcano, the whole region of Bicol thrives in faith tourism. Located at the heart of Region 5 or the Bicol Region, the province Camarines Sur and Albay are known for many iconic and historical cathedrals, churches, and basilicas, which local and foreign pilgrims frequent at.
This is something Bicol takes pride in, especially in a country where the Catholic faith is predominant and where there is a strong tradition of Visita Iglesia, or Church Visitation during the Lenten Season.
In our recent tour with the Tourism Promotions Board that happened alongside their Marketing Enhancement Sustainable Community-Based Tourism Workshop, we checked out the churches in Camarines Sur and the nearby municipalities in Albay that you can include in your own pilgrimage.
Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia
One of the most popular churches to visit in Camarines Sur is the Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, located at the Pilgrim City and Queen City of Bicol – Naga City. This church houses one of Asia’s most venerated Marian images, Bicol’s “patroness” they call “Ina.” Locals and tourists would flock to the city every 3rd or 4th week of September to join one of the largest Marian celebrations in Asia.
Naga Metropolitan Cathedral
Only less than 10 minutes away from the Peñafrancia Minor Basilica, you can also include Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, formerly known as the St. John the Evangelist Metropolitan Cathedral. The cathedral, whose interiors and Spanish-Romanesque architecture are adored by many, also holds many stories of survival from fire, earthquakes, and typhoons.
The Church of Buhi
Buhi Church or St Francis of Assisi Church is located at Iriga-Buhi Road, Buhi, Camarines Sur. The long history of this church dates back to when it was first built in 1680 and dedicated to the patronage of Sts. Anthony of Padua and Francis of Assisi.
It was destroyed by fire in 1730, rebuilt after 5 years, and was continuously damaged by several earthquakes throughout the decades. At present, it remains an icon to the municipality and to the region that is close and next to another icon – the Buhi Lake.
Another pilgrimage site just less than 30 minutes away from Buhi Church is the Inorogan Chapel or the Nuestra Señora De Las Angustias Chapel in Sto. Domingo, Iriga City, at the slope of Mt. Iriga. Its location gives pilgrims a bit of a challenge with a flight of around 160+ cemented stairs but with a rewarding overlooking view of the city, a garden, Stations of the Cross, and of course, the chapel itself.
Inorogan Chapel is considered by locals as a miraculous site after an alleged apparition of the Virgin Mary to the Agta hunters. A statue commemorating this happening can be found on one side of the chapel.
Andrew The Apostle Parish
Established in 1684, St. Andrew The Apostle Parish is located in the Municipality of Sagñay, Camarines Sur. At present, the church has been revamped from damages through time, but it was first built with wood and stone. The foundation of which still stands today represents the great effort and contribution of the first Spanish missionaries.
Our Lady of Salvation
Continue your Visita Iglesia and road trip to Joroan in Tiwi, not in Camarines Sur anymore, but in the province of Albay. The devotion is based on a wooden Virgin Mary statue canonically crowned by the Catholic Church in 1976. The church is also known for various miraculous stories, such as protection from marauders and apparitions.
Carmelite Monastery & Shrine of the Divine Mercy
It’s hard not to be mesmerized by the beauty of the Carmelite Monastery & Shrine of the Divine Mercy, located up by the Kawa-Kawa Hill, a popular tourist destination in Albay. You’ll easily spot it even while roaming around Ligao City, and as you get close, you’ll appreciate the beautiful overlooking view and the church itself, which was newly built in 2014. Inside, you’ll find a half-circular theatre-style seating which is a bit different from the typical churches in the country.
Now that you’ve got this list save it as a reference for the lenten season this year when you pack your bags and head to Bicol!
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Read: Europe Visita Iglesia #5: Santiago De Compostela Cathedral In Spain