Eukaristiya, the Garden of Thanksgiving, located at the Archbishop’s Palace in downtown Cebu, is a place for devotees and visitors to assemble or pray in silence.
The mahogany trees and tropical foliage, the life-size vignettes of Christ’s passion and death, and the new Cross Tower were lovingly put together to reawaken the spirit.
The construction of the Garden was funded by corporations and donors.
Felicidad Sy, matriarch of the banking, real estate and retail family, spearheaded the construction of the Cross Tower. Through her eponymous foundation, Felicidad has been sponsoring the education of seminarians and the building of churches.
“This is a quiet place with the shrine of Cebuano martyr San Pedro Calungsod, and the statue of then Pope, now Saint John Paul, who stayed here in 1981,” said architect Michael Torres.
“The national shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is in front,” he added. “This is a historic destination and new landmark that will lift you.”
Eukaristiya was launched during the International Eucharistic Congress last January, a celebration of faith and a gathering of clergy, religious and lay people who discussed issues concerning worship and practice.
“The site development is a thanksgiving for the gift of faith; it is an area for prayer, meditation and celebration of the Mass,” said Torres who designed a welcoming and intimate landscape for people to explore.
Stations of the Cross
Greeting visitors at the entrance is the striking view of the Eternal Flame, a stone reminder of the soul’s burning faith, with a soaring Cross Tower in the background.
One can traverse the 14 Stations of the Cross with sculptures by local artist Vic Gulane.
The journey begins with a dramatic sculpture of the Agony in the Garden. Tears roll down Christ’s face for special effects. You can light a candle, kneel beside the statue and pray.
There are stone pathways, a lagoon, water fountain, flowers and manicured shrubs. Rough pavers suggest the old streets of Jerusalem where Jesus Christ had walked. Torres noted that the place is wheelchair-friendly.
Each Station is surrounded by clipped hedges and lush plantings that intimately connect you with nature and the Source. The silent walk ends with three prayer bells, symbols of faith, hope and love, and a cluster of 51 bells, representing the 51 years of the IEC.
The lagoon, called the Walk on Water, represents Jesus Christ’s walk in the Sea of Galilee. The footpath ends at the Eucharistic Garden, a symbol of the triumph of the spirit over hardships. Mass is celebrated in the amphitheater with an image of the Risen Christ.
The ultimate experience lies in the Cross Tower, a monolith that shuts off the clatter of the world. The triangular shape stands for the Holy Trinity.
At night, light emanates from the glass windows, a sign of hope in the hour of darkness. Each floor has a Petition Wall for your prayers.
The top floor opens onto panoramic views of Cebu’s uptown, downtown, the harbor and the seaside.
“There’s more power in praying in higher places,” said Torres.
The Cross Tower is one of Felicidad’s most significant projects in Cebu, after the San Pedro Calungsod Chapel, the first project constructed before the retail area and offices at the SM Seaside Complex.
Sources close to the Sys said that Felicidad’s prayers had generated blessings and prosperity for Henry Sy’s businesses. “Tatang (Henry Sy) worked while Nanang (Felicidad) prayed. That was how SM’s business expanded,” said a source.
“I go to church every day, sometimes twice I day. I’ve never missed,” Felicidad said, smiling.
Asked what attracted her to the Cross Tower development, she replied in humility, “It’s God’s will.”
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