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Tarlac Pilgrimage Tour

Description: One of the most frequented pilgrimage sites in Central Luzon, the Monasterio de Tarlac is home to the most revered Relic of the True Cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified and died. Now enshrined at the Church of the Servants of the Risen Christ, the reliquary may be venerated during Saturdays and Sundays when liturgical services are held at 10:00 a.m. by the monastic congregation of the Servants of the Risen Christ. Every September 14, during the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, the reliquary is laid open to the public for veneration.

What to Do: Spend time at the monastery in the morning for a moment of prayer, retreat or recollection. Hear mass on a Saturday or Sunday. Venerate the relic of the True Cross. Then, in the afternoon, visit these equally significant churches: St. Sebastian Cathedral in Tarlac City, St. Michael the Archangel Parish in San Miguel, Expiatory Chapel in Gerona, Our Lady of Peace Parish in La Paz, San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish in Capas and Sto. Nino Parish in Bamban - all in Tarlac.


Monasterio de Tarlac/Relic of the True Cross
Brgy. Lubigan, San Jose, Tarlac

Description and History

The Monasterio de Tarlac was established in 2003 as the hermitage house for five (5) monks of the Priory of the Servants of the Risen Christ (SRC), a congregation of monastic brothers (more appropriately addressed as Frater) led by its Prior, Frater Ronald Thomas Cortez, SRC or Fr. Archie to his friends. The congregation has a total population of thirty (30) Fraters all over the country - all destined to a life of monasticism and contemplative life. The rather solitary and prayerful life in the monastery took an unexpected turn when it became the fitting shrine of the authentic relic or fragment of the True Cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified and died in Golgotha, according to Christian tradition. The historic moment came in 2005 during the World Youth Day in Essen, Germany when Msgr. Volker Bauer offered to turn over to Prior, Fr. Archie, the Sacred Wood. On January 29, 2007, the Silver Reliquary containing portion of the Cross was flown in by Msgr. Bauer in a chapel in Clark, Pampanga and finally to the Church of the Risen Christ at the monastery. Its dedication was conducted by His Excellency Most Rev. Fernando Filoni, D.D., Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, together with Tarlac Bishop Florentino F. Cinense, and a host of other clergy. This particle of the True Cross was originally located in a church in Germany until the advent of communism which outlawed the practice of Christian faith thus giving way to Catholic churches being converted into museums and warehouses. Many of these pieces of the Wooden Cross were kept in secret places by Christians of old only to be distributed in later years to churches around the world. The reliquary is known to be the only one in the entire continent of Asia.

To accommodate the growing hordes of devotees to the shrine in Tarlac, the Prior decided to celebrate the Holy Mass every Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 in the morning after which the faithful is allowed entry to the reliquary to pay their homage and be blessed with spirituality. Starting on September 14, 2007 and every year thereafter, when the entire Christian community celebrates the anniversary of the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and for which the Vatican officially named the day in 1963 as the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, the church will begin to open the silver-guilt reliquary for public veneration. Atop the imposing altar is the inscription in Latin: Ave, Crux, Spes, Unica which means Hail, the Holy Cross, Our Only Hope.

The sprawling monastery with dormitory and viewing decks offers a commanding view of the mountainous terrain of the towns of Tarlac nearby and the imposing 30-ft. Statue of the Risen Christ. The priory is open to the conduct of spiritual renewals such as retreats and recollections for both students and adults. The fraters would be happy to conduct one for individuals or groups.

The veneration of the True Cross finds its origin in the legend of Helena. According to Christian tradition, when Emperor Constantine granted religious freedom to Christians in the Roman Empire in 313 A.D., his mother, Queen Helena, later in 326 A.D. made pilgrimage to the Holy Land to locate those places sacred to Christians and find the Cross of Jesus. With the help of Christians there, she found many places where Jesus lived, and carried out his ministry. Queen Helena had churches built in many of these sacred sites (e.g., the Tomb of the Holy Sepulchre, the Calvary, the Nativity, etc.). She also found the True Cross, buried under a pagan temple, the nails, and the title that was affixed to the Cross. She is said to have verified the true cross among the three that were unearthed through miracles (a dead girl was restored to life when touched by the True Cross) . She left part of the Cross in Jerusalem, gave part to her son in Constantinople, and took part back to Rome where the Church of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem was built. Pieces of the Cross were venerated as holy relics, and fragments were given as gifts to many churches in Europe.

How to Get There
From Manila, take the North Luzon Expressway, exit Sta. Ines Toll Plaza in Mabalacat, Pampanga. Proceed towards north to Tarlac City. Upon reaching Brgy. San Sebastian (Hon Kee Tea House on your right or Vilmar Restaurant on your left), take a left turn to the bypass road (Tarlac - Pangasinan) towards the town of Camiling. Follow the 36-km backcountry but well-paved road to Brgy. Lubigan in San Jose, Tarlac (turns are well signposted).

The monastery is located at the heart of the 278-ha Tarlac Ecotourism Park in Brgy. Lubigan, San Jose, Tarlac.

The place will soon become one of the most-visited piligrimage sites in the country.

Contact Information:

Frater Thomas Mary Lawrence, Mobile No. 0917-932-8738, Email: [email protected]

Department of Tourism - Region III, Tel. No. (045) 961-2665/2612/625-8525 or eMail: [email protected] or Tarlac Provincial Tourism, Tel. No. (045) 982-2374, Tarlac City Tourism Council (Chairman Lydia Co), Tel. No. (045) 982-4051/1923


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