Simala Church| Located at Sibonga, Cebu lies this popular castle-like church — Simala Church, also known as Monastery of the Holy Eucharist. The church has been established by the Marian monks lead by Fra. Martin, from Pampanga who were sent on mission through the intercession of Mother Mary to Cebu. His Eminence Cardinal Vidal granted them the permission to stay and find a land they can cultivate and establish for cloistered and monks dedicated to prayer and Mary, officially naming their community Marian Monks of the Eucharistic Adoration (MMEA).
The Prediction and Miracles
Long before the church was built, an old man from Lindogon, Sibonga, named Ireneo Villamor or “Inko Niyong”, predicted: “Here comes a time that the hill of Lindogon will turn to be Holy (Bala-an). A white lady will stand and she will be the center of many people and will be cared by a group of pious men.” The prediction was realized by the people of Lindogon to be Mother Mary, taken cared of by the Marian Monks who occupied the land.
There are many miracles experienced by the monks, through the intercession of Mother Mary. The land was hard to maintain, they suffer lack of water, their crops died and they have to ask for alms. But they prayed to Mother Mary and by her grace, she helped the monks with their livelihood.
Then, a dengue outbreak killed many children as well, and they asked the miraculous Mother Mary to spare the place of the epidemic. They offered a penitential rosary walk to Mary. Days after, the mosquitoes vanished and children and infected by Dengue were healed. A fragrance of fresh flowers filled the land and some noted flowers bloom from the hills. From then on, people starts to gather and prayed for Mary in Simala and many offered prayers and petitions. A number of miracles, including the shredding of tears of the image of the Virgin Mary were accounted as well. Since then, Simala Shrine has been a place for pilgrimage and prayers from all over the country.
How to Get to Simala
I’ve been to Simala for three times now, and I’ve always enjoyed my visits. From Cebu City, go to Cebu South Bus Terminal (near E-Mall). Ride a Ceres Bus to Oslob or to Sibonga. Fare is 85php each and travel time is about two and a half hours. Ask the conductor to drop you at the Simala drop off point at Sibonga (near 7/11). From there, you will be welcomed by habal-habal drivers you can rent, who will take you to Simala Shrine for 25php each person, 50 php back-and-forth. The ride to Simala is about 10-15 minutes by habal-habal.
Reminders When Going to Simala
Keep in mind that Simala Shrine is not your typical vacation tourist spot but a church where people pray and a place maintained by monks and religious. The following should be observed when going to the infamous castle-like church.
What to Wear?
Wear proper attire when going to church. No leggings, short shorts, ripped jeans, mini-skirts, spaghetti straps, sleeveless (spaghetti straps) and plunging necklines, and sando. If it happens that you are wearing any of these clothes, there are vendors that offer long skirts for rent for 20php.
Silence must be observed.
The first part of the shrine is the Church proper where mass is celebrated. The replica of the Virgin Mary is at the center of the altar. The second part of the shrine is the museum where you will see thousands of letters for healing, of gratitude and of testimonies. Wheelchairs, walking cranes, wigs/artificial hair, medals, calculators, uniforms, badges, pencils and all sorts are displayed in the museum as testimonies of the miracle received through the intercession of Mary. There are different images of Mother Mary in the museum as well, which I find very amusing, personally. I never realized Mary has so many titles and versions across the globe.
No eating and drinking alcoholic beverages inside.
I’ve never seen a church or prayer room where people can eat inside. Well, we’re not accustomed to that, right? We’re told by our elders since we’re young that when you go to church, it’s not allowed to eat, especially during mass. Much more drink alcohol. We all know a church is a temple of God (now I’m sounding too religious here). But that’s a basic, we all know that!
Footwear are not allowed in the museum.
This is not a problem since the place is really for pilgrimage and prayer. Walking barefoot adds solemnity to the place, in my opinion. We are humbled to walk barefoot and be grounded. Do not worry so much whether your shoes or slippers will be misplaced. In my visits there, no pair of footwear went missing.
Cameras are allowed! But no flash please.
Yes, cameras are allowed! As far as I’ve experienced, no one reprimanded me of taking pictures inside the church or museum. However, camera flashes are not allowed. I don’t think it’s needed anyway. The place is well-lighted and you can produce nice pictures with that. Good thing, people who visit Simala are following. There are guards roaming around just in case you are that one little disobedient fellow who’s not disciplined to follow simple rules.
In addition to that, you will also find a booth for religious items for sale there. There are items like angels, small images and figurines, rosaries, rosary bracelets, scapulars etc.
Holy Mass Schedule
For Catholics, Holy Mass is held everyday:
- Monday – Friday – 12 Noon
- Saturday – 10:30 AM
- Sunday – 10:30 AM and 12 Noon
So, when you visit Simala, that’s what you can expect. Offer prayers of thanks and gratitude. Ask for any petitions and write letters to her and drop it in their designated area for petitions. More importantly, bring your heart and soul when you visit the church. More than the view and Instagramable photos, it is good that our souls are enjoying as well, isn’t it? -jle