Pope Francis’ Visit to the Philippines



by Audrey Seah

The “pastoral liturgy guide” for Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to the Philippines from Jan 15 – 19 has just been released. Those interested in following the upcoming celebrations may download the booklet for free from the Vatican. All readings, prayers, hymns and responses are included in the liturgical guide. Latin is the primary language of the Mass with religious and priests, while English and several filipino dialects are used in the other masses.

Religious icon of the Black Nazarene during the annual religious procession in Manila
Religious icon of the Black Nazarene during the annual religious procession in Manila

Liturgically speaking, there’s much to look forward to the next few days. The Philippines is well-known for colorful expressions of religious fervor as seen most recently in the annual procession of the Black Nazarene. And let’s not forget the giant (higantes) Pope Francis made out of paper marché from last November’s Higantes festival (will giant Pope Francis make an appearance at the Apostolic visit?!) With the theme of the visit being “mercy and compassion” and the focus on the victims of typhoon Haiyan which displaced four million people and flattened over one million homes, however, I’m most looking forward to seeing the inseparable link between liturgy and social justice being made apparent again in a world that tends to forget it too easily.

Let’s keep our Filipino brothers and sisters in prayer as they prepare for our Holy Father’s arrival.


Audrey Seah is an alumna of Saint John’s School of Theology-Seminary and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Theology (Liturgical Studies) the University of Notre Dame.

Images taken from The Papal Visit Philippines and Business Insider.


  1. The link is different from the full site and the mobile site. The full site connects to the Vatican booklet and the mobile site links to the Filipino one. I prefer the Filipino so far…

  2. “. . . and several filipino dialects are used in the other masses.”

    Seven major languages will be used in the Pope’s Masses. These languages–called dialects by the unknowing–are as different from each other as Spanish is different from French, Portuguese and Italian. A native speaker in one language will not understand a native speaker in another language, though all the languages belong to the same huge Austronesian language family.

  3. Thanks for clarifying, Vic. When I described the languages as dialects, I meant it in a social sense – “unofficial” languages like Cantonese or shanghainese vis-a-vis Mandarin – and not that of linguists who’d consider any language that cannot be understood by another as a separate language. Perhaps I should have been more specific. After all, the Philippines is a wonderful land of polyglots!

    1. @Audrey Seah – comment #4:
      Actually, be wary of using the term “dialect” to refer to Philippine languages other than Tagalog (which is the basis of one of the Philippines’ two official languages), especially if you are outside Manila. Those of us living here periodically get “Imperial Manila” jabs for thinking just that.

      Yes, our being a polyglot country is a wonderful thing. The Bible Society here has seven main translations of the Bible available for the major languages of the Philippines. More people speak Cebuano, for example, than Tagalog, though the media largely use the latter in its “Filipino” form.

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