November 4, 2011

Monastery of the Holy Eucharist! (Birhen sa Simala)

The main reason why we came to Cebu was because my mother and her office mates had to attend a 2-day meeting from October 25-26. My father then decided for the two of us to barge in and have our vacation. But since the meeting was already over by 25, they decided to visit the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist or colloquially known as Birhen sa Simala. Located in Simala in the municipality of Sibonga, Cebu, it took us a two-hour trip using their office's bus. I have already seen the church in picture from a friend in Facebook and I got excited about it because it is gonna be a great add-on to this blog, which you are (if you are) reading now. As we arrived I took pictures immediately. I even had a video documentary but they got deleted. Sorry for that. Below are select pictures of the famous castle-like church.
This Cebuano Cathedral looks like a castle in Europe. It has a pond below that acts like a moat. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary who was the mother of the human incarnation of Jesus Christ.
The gargantuan facade of the Holy Eucharist monastery. The Cathedral has been famous as their image of the Virgin Mary has been said to perform miracles of all sorts for their Catholic followers. It is managed by monks and due to the insistent number of donations they posted that donations should be given to monks directly to avoid swindlers.
Each of the candles' colors has each meaning. I lit green which means petitions for study and career. While some who lit red meant they needed help in their love life. My mother en kindled Gold that meant petitions for Healing. 
After praying with our candles for the Lord, we attended the mass which is held everyday at 12:00 noon usually but10:30 AM on Saturdays.
The ceiling of the Cathedral got its inspiration from those of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican, with beautiful paintings and stained glass art.
A turn right from the chapel is a gallery of testimonials and thank you prayers placed in glass cabinets. Some were badges, IDs, crutches, wheel chairs and letters where these devotees witnessed the miracles and answered prayers of the Lord through their prayers to the Virgin Mary. Access to the gallery though has some restrictions. Shoes and other foot wear, well except socks of course, are not allowed and should be left on the racks placed outside. There is also a dress code. Sleeveless shirts, short skirts, and other revealing/informal attire are prohibited. 
A few steps further and there you'll see a staircase that will take you to the second floor. That is also where the miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary is located. The statue is placed behind the Cathedral altar. As seen in the picture the line of devotees can span from a few tens to even a hundred. 
This is the actual statue said to perform miracles including the shedding of tears, change in facial expression and hearing prayers. Since there are a lot of testimonials already, tourists and locals alike visit the image and say prayers to the Virgin Mary.
As you leave the statue of the Virgin Mary of Simala you will enter another gallery now for different images of Mary. From the Lady of the Guadalupe, Lady of Mt. Carmel, NiƱa Maria among others, the place looks more of a museum than a typical veneration chapel. Statues of Swiss Guards looks to protect the gallery.
Placed in each statue of the different images of the Virgin Mary are the framed document of the stories of each of the apparition or miracle works.
On the ceiling of the second gallery are also paintings reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel.
As we leave the pristine and solemn place, I remembered my prayers and offered them to the Lord Almighty. If you are in need of a different place where you can reflect and strengthen your faith, the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist is not a tourist spot but a spiritual destination. 
Going to Simala from Cebu City.
1. Go to the South Bound Bus Terminal, maybe through Taxi, Jeep, or tricycle.
2. Take a bus going to the municipality of Sibonga and ask to be dropped at corner to Simala.
3. You can ride a tricycle or a motorcycle for a fare that will take you to the monastery.

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Anonymous said...

Nice! -Christopher Baguinang, Philippines

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