Catholicism, Faith, Travel

Travel Guide: Simala Church in Sibonga, Cebu

Dress code in Simala Church

Simala is  located at the town of Sibonga in Cebu, Philippines. The Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to the locals in the 19th century, specifically on the hill of Lindogon, Simala. And that is why they built a church in honour of Her. Also, many faithfuls attest that their prayers were granted after visiting this place.

How to get to Simala by bus

  1. Take a bus from the Southern Cebu bus terminal, which is near Elizabeth Mall. The bus trip would take more or less two hours.
  2. Upon arriving the town of Sibonga, alight at the local park. Or better yet, let the driver know you’re going to Simala and he’ll know where to drop you.
  3. Take a habal-habal (motorcycle) which you can find anywhere in the highway. Cost of ride is 20 pesos per person. The church is located in the Marian Hills of Lindogon , a few kilometers away from the Sibonga highway. It is practical to ride a habal-habal (motorcycle) since the way up can be steely and narrow.
  4. Upon arriving at the gate of the church, join the queue in going inside the church. Make sure to bring umbrella in case it rains or the sun is scorching hot.

Things to remember while inside the Simala Church premises

  • Inside the church premises, you would see signs that tell you to pray and pay respect. Since it also houses the monks of the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist, they prefer silence and meditation from everyone.
  • There are restaurants and eateries in the nearby vicinity. You can take your lunch or snacks there, or if you brought your own food, you can use the tables inside the church premises designated for that purpose. But still, silence must be observed.
  • Every twelve o’clock noon, a mass will be officiated. You can hear the mass by going to the pews, or you can join the queue that leads to the miraculous statue, which is behind the main altar of the church.
Queue for the Miraculous Statue
Queue for the Miraculous Statue
  • Before the mass, the nuns will then lead the group rosary and sing hymns. It is always wise and prudent to join the rosary and avoid activities such as charing, using mobile phones, among others.
  • You will be reminded to remove your shoes upon entering the sacred church.
  • While taking the queue, you will see cabinets that contains proofs of answered prayers: letters, nurse caps, teacher’s pins, wheelchairs, walking cranes and many more.
  • Say your prayers. Taking the queue itself is part of your pilgrimage. The love, thanksgiving and gratitude of the people seem to resonate every corner of this majestic church. You can only imagine how many people have walked through the halls of the church, asking, begging and calling Mama Mary to heal their illness, to help them pass the board exams, to grant them peace of mind, and anything else.
  • At the miraculous statue, people will take turns in kneeling in front of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On your turn, pay further respect to Our Lady and say fervently your petitions or novena.
The Miraculous Statue in Simala Church
The Miraculous Statue in Simala Church

History of Simala Church

After having prayed at the altar, we went to the church museum and looked at all the memorabilia and history artifacts of the monastery and the church. From what I’ve read, it was the monks themselves who built the church from stone to stone. One of the paintings showed a gathering of the natives, and there was a caption that says: (1840-1880) Pious Native of Lindogon once predicted and said, “There come a time, a hill of Lindogon will become “balaan”, a white lady will stand soon and she will be the center of all people, but her pious servants will endure great suffering and persecutions.” This caption is incomplete and the first words were names of people whom I can’t read clearly, the dates included.

Beautiful Collections of Marian Statues

There were also a diverse collections of statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Each staue represent a unique image of Mama Mary such as Lady of Fatima, Help of Christians, Perpetual Help, Victory, Guadalupe, and even a Korean Mama Mary. There was also an infant Mary called “Ninya Maria” which means Baby Mary.

Baby Maria
Baby Maria
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary
Our Lady of La Salette
Our Lady of La Salette

Phenomenal Miracles of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Simala

It was September 8, 1998 (her birthday) that the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary reportedly shed tears. Witnesses to this phenomenon said that they saw Mama Mary shed tears which flowed from her nose to chin. Her face also transformed into a wrinkled, shrunken face of an old woman and it turned back to a beautiful youthful face again.

The status is made of fiber glass, which is created from Pampanga but was rejected because it did not pass quality. The monks got the statue for free. Scientists in the country also could not explain the phenomenon since fiber glass is not able to produce water on its own. Time to time, there were other miracles that occur. A laceration once appeared on the forehead of Mama Mary, but then it disappeared later on. Just recently on her birthday, September 8, 2012, in celebration of her birthday, Mama Mary was clothed and decorated by a monk, priest, and a devotee and while they were doing this, Mama Mary again shed a tear and the monk had to wipe it.

Messages of the Blessed Virgin Mary

More than going to places, it is your faith, daily prayers, and Christ-centered lives that are of utmost importance. And always adhere to the messages of our Mother that she gives through Vatican-approved miraculous apparitions and visits.

Ave Maria, gratia plena. Ora Pro Nobis!

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