San Guillermo de Aquitania Parish Church in Dalaguete. Photo by DOT Region 7

A Journey to the Holy Doors of Southern Cebu

DOT Central Visayas and the Archdiocese of Cebu have designed a pilgrimage down south of Cebu in celebration of the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines.

A trip to Cebu is an ideal spiritual voyage for pilgrims celebrating the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines.

With the celebration comes the opening of Holy Doors in the country, which symbolizes the passage to salvation and grants plenary indulgence to whoever steps inside such a sacred entrance.

Holy Doors as passage to plenary indulgence

There are 537 Jubilee churches all over the Philippines. A pilgrimage to enter the Holy Doors of these churches represents passing into the presence of God.

Rev. Fr. Brian Brigoli, Chair of the Archdiocese of Cebu Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, calls it a “special moment of grace” and an incredible spiritual journey of a lifetime.

Plenary indulgence is a special blessing for the total removal of sins. It is granted with the performance of a prescribed act such as passage through the Holy Door at any of 500 Jubilee Churches in the Philippines within the Jubilee Year 2021-2022. It is done together with confession, receiving communion and praying for the Pope. 

Southern Cebu Jubilee Churches Pilgrimage

In Southern Cebu, several Holy Doors from various churches were identified—all are situated in neighboring countryside municipalities.

If you are a pilgrim, a trip round-south of Cebu may just be a fitting journey towards spiritual nourishment.

The Department of Tourism – Central Visayas (DOT7) and the Archdiocese of Cebu have designed Southern Cebu Jubilee Churches Tour, a two-day itinerary launched to pave the way for pilgrims who celebrate the Jubilee Year of the Philippines’ 500 Years of Christianity.

Entering through the Holy Door at five (5) of the seven (7) churches in the itinerary is a vital feature of the pilgrimage.

With this itinerary where pilgrims enter several Holy Doors in a day, a pilgrim is granted the plenary indulgence upon entrance to the first Holy Door. Each Holy Door after can be dedicated to a dead loved one, according to Rev. Fr. Brigoli.

Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. Photo by DOT 7

Together with their chaplain, pilgrims will pray at the Holy Doors before entering the churches. While en route to the next Jubilee Church, the pilgrims will pray the Holy Rosary to be led by the tour chaplain.

The spiritual journey starts with a Mass at the Basilica historic Basilica Minore—the center of the celebration of the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines. The church is the oldest in the country and the only basilica in the Visayas and Mindanao. After the mass, the group can explore the Sto. Niño Pilgrim Center and its museum.

The pilgrims will then travel to Carcar City to enter the Holy Door of the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Catherine of Alexandria. As one of the best-preserved heritage churches in Cebu, the church’s byzantine-influenced architecture with Moorish onion-shaped domes crowning twin belltowers is a distinctive feature. The city itself is a heritage zone showcasing Spanish and American period structures. 

Pilgrims will go further down south and have a stop at the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Michael in Argao. It is known to have few pipe organs that are still being played during masses. Another stop is in Dalaguete, at the San Guillermo de Aquitania Church. It is one of Cebu’s heritage sites, popular for its unique artistry. 


St. Michael Church in Argao is one of the churches in Cebu that has a historical pipe organ that is being played every week during Sunday Masses. Photo by Teddy Pelaez


Entering the Holy Door of St. Michael Church in Argao with Rev. Fr. Brigoli leading the prayer. Photo by Gelyka Dumaraos


San Guillermo de Aquitania Parish Church in Dalaguete. Photo by DOT Region 7
Entering the Holy Door of San Guillermo de Aquitania Church in the town of Dalaguete. Photo by Gelyka Dumaraos

Another stop that can be included in the itinerary is a visit to St. Gregory the Great Parish Church in Ginatilan, said to be the hometown of teenage Filipino saint San Pedro Calungsod.

St. Gregory the Great Parish Church in Ginatilan. Photo by Teddy Pelaez

The culmination of the pilgrimage happens in the quaint town of Boljoon at the Patrocinio de Maria Church. The said Jubilee Church is a National Cultural Treasure and National Historical Landmark in the tentative list of sites for nomination as a World Heritage Site.


Patrocinio de Maria Church in Boljoon. Photo by Teddy Pelaez

The baroque structure hosts a pseudo baroque-rococo retablo. The church complex includes an expansive plaza and a two-story convent with a museum on the ground floor that houses interesting spiritual and historical artifacts of the town. 

The pilgrimage ends in Barili with a stop at the Sta. Ana Church. This is the only parish in Cebu dedicated to the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was the first to be run by secular priests.

Sta. Ana Church in Barili. Photo by Teddy Pelaez

Southern Cebu Pilgrimage side tours

Another facet of a spiritual journey is exploring the beauty of God’s creation. Southern Cebu holds not only several historical sacred places but also idyllic sights and enriching culture and tradition that are distinct in each town. 

The Southern Cebu Pilgrimage is designed to integrate side tours for pilgrims while immersing themselves in faith-based activities.

Visit to Magellan’s Cross

The start of the pilgrimage may include a short stop at Magellan’s Cross. A discussion on its history and significance is important in establishing the spiritual history of Cebu Province which also mirrors the Jubilee Churches’ roots.

Discussion of Cebu’s roots at Magellan’s Cross. Photo by Teddy Pelaez

Taste crunchy lechon in Carcar City

In Carcar City, participants can taste the popular Lechon Carcar known for its tender and juicy meat topped with crunchy skin. Carcar is one of the primary sources of Cebu’s Original Lechon flavor and it has made the city a leading destination for tourists who want to bring home Lechon. 

Tasting Carcar City’s Lechon. Photo by Gelyka Dumaraos

Experience homemade torta-making in Argao

Torta is a spongy and fluffy pastry that is a popular snack best eaten with a cup of tablea at hand. In Argao, Jessie’s Torta is a popular pick thanks to its traditional way of cooking. It stands out from the rest as it uses fermented coconut wine or tuba as a leavening agent. 

Tasting torta of Jessie’s Torta in Argao. Photo by Gelyka Dumaraos

Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls in Badian

A heart-thumping experience awaits the thrill-seekers in Badian with a canyoneering trip to Kawasan Falls. 

A trip to Kawasan Falls is one of the best adventures in Cebu that involves trekking, jumping, and swimming before discovering its breathtaking beauty. A sumptuous boodle fight caps off the trip.


Canyoneering adventure at Kawasan Falls in Badian. Photo by Gelyka Dumaraos


Capping off the canyoneering adventure with a boodle fight. Photo by Gelyka Dumaraos

The journey to the Holy Doors of Southern Cebu is one of the best things you can do in Cebu Province this year as the country celebrates the 500 Years of Christianity. This is a unique and one-in-a-lifetime experience that enriches not only the mind and the body but also the soul.

Philippine Airlines, the nation’s flag carrier, supports the faith-based tourism initiative. PAL has 10 daily flights 7 days a week between Cebu and Manila, providing pilgrims with a wealth of travel choices.

Pilgrims are advised to book flights through for Super Savers and 3-in-1 deals and to contact DOT-accredited tour operators for their pilgrimage tours.


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