Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Marian Hills


Monastery of the Holy Eucharist

The Monastery of the Holy Eucharist or "Birhen sa Simala" as it is locally known is a 2 hour drive south from Cebu City through narrow roads and lush countryside. It's a slow ride considering tricycles ply the roads between the small towns along the way and occasionally, a fiesta or a school celebration may result in traffic jams.

In the barangay of Lindogon, the road leads uphill. My first impression when I saw the Monastery was that it seemed out of place in these rustic surroundings. The architectural style is more aligned with European cathedrals. There's no semblance at all to Spanish colonial churches which are predominant in the Philippines. That said, the interior of the church follows the traditional colonial Baroque style.

I was caught by surprise when a security guard stopped me from entering the Monastery grounds. He told me that sleeveless dresses were not allowed inside the Monastery.  I wasn't aware of any dress restrictions  and had brought nothing to cover my arms with. Luckily, there were enterprising women renting shawls for $.75 but I decided to buy my own silk shawl from a stall just outside the gate for $2.40.

 
Main altar with the Virgin of Simala

My friend and I walked barefooted on gleaming hardwood floors as no shoes are allowed beyond the entrance to the back of the main altar where the miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary is on view. This statue was observed to have shed tears in 1998 and 1999. It was a special moment to place my hand on the glass frame encircling the statue and pray for special intentions. 

On the way down we stopped to see the collection of statues of the Virgin Mary representing different countries and various portrayals of her as Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of China among others.

St. Michael, the Archangel guarding the hillside

Before leaving, I lighted a pink candle, a symbol of thanksgiving and joy. There were so many colors to choose from like gold for healing or white for enlightenment but I chose pink because I have so much to be grateful for.

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Images by Charie



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