Why do pilgrims visit seven churches on Maundy Thursday? Why does it have to be seven?

Some say the seven churches represent the seven last words (siete palabras) of Jesus Christ on the cross. Some say the tradition is connected to the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

Others base their answers on ancient pilgrimages done by visiting seven churches for penance, while others talk of the seven periods from the time Christian churches were founded and on to the anticipated return of The Christ.

According to “Catechists At Work,” in the first church a pilgrim is to reflect upon Jesus' journey from the Cenacle where he celebrated the Last Supper.

The second church leads to meditation on Jesus interrogated by Annas, a high priest, who slapped him in the face.

In the third church, prayers are to focus on Jesus' journey to the house of Caiaphas, another high priest, who spat upon him and insulted him.

Reflection in the fourth church is about Jesus before Pilate, the Roman governor of the Judean region, while the fifth church is about his appearance before Herod Antipas, king of Galilee and Perea.

At the sixth church, pilgrims are to meditate on the second appearance of Jesus before Pontius Pilate, while the seventh church is about Christ’s journey from Pilate’s house to Mount Calvary.

We hear varied explanations but there is one that sums up the essence of “Visita Iglesia” — we come to honor the Blessed Sacrament where we bear witness to the profound humility of Jesus Christ.

The visit has to be done in more than one church as the prayers are meant to be offered through a journey. It does not have to be seven exactly. The way tradition had come to pick seven is most likely because of the pervasive patterns of the number seven in Bible history, such as in the length of Creation, which provides a sense of "fullness" or completion.

You might want to complete your "Visita Iglesia" in San Isidro Labrador Parish Church and Convent in the Province of Siquijor.

The church in the Municipality of Lazi was built in 1884 under the supervision of Recollect priest Father Toribio Sanchez.

The church is declared a National Cultural Treasure and National Historical Landmark by the National Museum of the Philippines and is nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List.