Monasterio de Tarlac is where the Relic of the Holy Cross can be found. It is rightly placed atop a mountain at San Jose in Tarlac, surrounded by lush greenery, in great contrast to the deathly Calvary which is believed to be where Jesus was crucified. And on this site in the monastery, pilgrims flock to venerate the “one true cross” and to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The monastery is run by the Servants of the Risen Christ (SRC) Monastic Community, founded by Fr. Ronald Thomas Cortez in 1998. In 2005, Fr. Cortez attended the World Youth Day celebration in Germany, where he met Msgr. Volker Bauer, the custodian of the relic. At the time, Msgr. Volker was looking for someone to whom he can entrust the relic since the monastic life in Europe is slowly dying. Aware of Fr. Cortez’ Monastic Community in the Philippines, Msgr. Volker entrusted the relic to him. And so in 2005, the holy cross came to the monastery.
The relic authenticated by a papal seal is believed to be part of the cross discovered by Saint Helena in Jerusalem, the mother Emperor Constantine the Great. It was believed that Saint Helena excavated three crosses in Jerusalem which were believed to be the crosses used during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. She brought a woman who was about to die and asked her to touch the first two crosses but nothing happened. When the third cross was touched, the dying woman was healed.
This story of Saint Helena is not often told but for the Filipinos, it is remembered through the month-long festival in May honoring the Virgin Mary, known to many as Santacruzan or Flores de Mayo held on the last day of the festival.
On January 30, 2007, the sacred relic of the Holy Cross was enshrined in a beautiful chapel on the Mountain of Resurrection in San Jose, Tarlac. The enshrinement was officiated by Archbishop Fernando Filoni who was the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines back then. The relic is enshrined beneath the chapel’s altar, held by a golden arquetta adorned with religious symbols. Pilgrims are allowed to touch the relic after the masses celebrated at 10:30 a.m. every day and at 3:00 pm on Sundays.
Visiting pilgrims to the Monasterio de Tarlac now enjoy an unobstructed view of nature from the hilltop now known as Mountain of Resurrection. The baroque chapel with a striking façade is built in the middle of the secluded compound, surrounded by a piazza remindful of European churches. The chapel serves as the cross’ reliquary.
Exposed veneration of the relic of the Holy Cross happens every January 19 to mark its enshrinement anniversary and September 14 for the SRC foundation anniversary. Monks from the monastery lead rituals and ceremonies during Holy Week when thousands of pilgrims across the country visit the Mountain of Resurrection. To accommodate guests from far-flung places and those who seek spiritual retreats, a 12-room dormitory was built on the hilltop. More hospitality structures are underway.
How to Get There
To get to the monastery, guests can take the NLEX (North Luzon Expressway) from Manila to SCTEX (Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway) and exiting at Hacienda Luisita. Taking MacArthur Highway, proceed to Tarlac City and turn left after Sogo Hotel and before SM. Follow the road leading to Brgy. Tibag junction, going to Monasterio de Tarlac at Eco-Tourism Park, San Jose, Tarlac. Guests coming from the north should head to Tarlac City where they will take a right turn going to Uniwide Mall. Following the service road and turning right to Carangian Bridge, guests will see markers leading to the monastery.