The Monastery of the Holy Eucharist in Lindogon, Sibonga in Cebu province is run by Marian Monks. The place is where several instances of the phenomenon whereby the image of the Virgin Mary shed tears in several instances starting in 1998. It is now very popular for Marian pilgrims and devotees who flock to the palace-like monastery. This transformed the once sleepy barangay into a popular destination. Daily, the monastery is visited by thousands of devotees from all over the country and even from foreign tourists.
A Very Short History
Based on the pamphlets that the monks and nuns are giving out, the image of Mary was given to the Marian Monks during the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. It was supposedly a ‘factory reject’. The monks brought the image in Lindogon when they moved there partly because their place in Pampanga was devastated by lahar.
On the other hand, the hills sit on top of lime formation which make the place unsuitable for farming. That’s the reason why some of its residents have move elsewhere in the province. So when one of the monks(who are vowed to poverty) inherited some wealth from his family, the money was used to buy the now Marian hills.
This is where the monks moved in in the 90s. Initially, locals are discounting them because they know that the soil in the hills is not suitable for farming and the monks continue to plant there. Hardships greeted the monks and the local population despise them. But their faith and dedication became fruitful when their plants grew and they started to harvest some produce. But even then, life was still hard in this remote location, 5 kilometers away from the nearest highway.
The Dengue Epidemic
The animosity of the locals towards the monks even grew stronger when the Dengue epidemic struck the place. A number of children died from the disease and many more stricken with it. The epidemic became worse that it was reported in the national news. The monks decided to ask the intercession of Virgin Mary to help the locals cope with the epidemic. They had novena and prayer procession around the sitio.
In their last day of the novena procession, those who attended smelled scent of roses. They were baffled because there’s no rose in the vicinity but they continued with their novena. The following day, the fever of most of those who were stricken with dengue was gone while the rest are already recovering.
Unknown to many, this is just one of the miracles that will come to this place and is the start change in their lives.
The Virgin in Tears
One morning, one of the monks found tears in the image of Mary. He went back to their quarters to tell the other monks about it. The monks decided to keep the phenomenon to themselves. However, some locals already saw the tears in the image of Mama Mary which was in a small chapel open to everybody. The news about the phenomenon spread quickly. The national media caught the news and was reported nationwide. From then on, the once sleepy sitio has never been the same.
The phenomenon also gave the Monks the necessary funds that up until that time, they are lack of. More people, especially those who were healed/blessed, started donating in kind, cash and volunteer work. That’s when the monks started building the church. And through the years with steady stream of donations (including the PHP780,000.00 cash they received in a sack), they managed to build the monastery to what it is today. Visitors will now be greeted with an awe-inspiring monastery.
It is quite inspiring just to know that the palace-like monastery standing in the Marian Hills in Lindogon now started with a very modest and small chapel. Even during the phenomenon, the image of the Virgin Mary is housed on a small hut. From there, a small church was erected and then main building which was extended until it became what it is today.
How to Get Simala
The best and fastest way to get there from Cebu City is by hiring a car/van. Travel time is between 1 to 2 hours depending on traffic condition. There’s a lot of for-hire vehicles in Cebu that will bring pilgrims there. Some taxis are also available to drive tourists to the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary. Price usually ranges from PHP2000 to PHP3000 for an 8-hour trip.
Public transportation is also available to get there. Buses are available in Cebu South Bus Terminal going to Lilo-an. The fare is PHP70.00 per person as of Feb 2012. Upon alighting at Simala, pilgrims will need to ride habal-habal/tricycle to the monastery. The fare is PHP20.00 for the almost 5km ride. The road is a well-paved/asphalted uphill road going to the Marian Hill.
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