Pilgrimages evoke our earthly journey toward heaven and are traditionally very special occasions for renewal in prayer. For pilgrims seeking living water, shrines are special places for living the forms of Christian prayer “in Church” (CCC 2691).
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Washington, DC: Dedicated to the patroness of the United States, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Roman Catholic Church in the country and among the ten largest churches in the world. Welcoming over one million pilgrims each year, this Shrine’s more than 70 chapels and oratories offer beautiful places for reflection and meditation in which each pilgrim can grown closer to Jesus through Mary, His Mother.
Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land – Washington, DC: Designed to offer pilgrims a place of prayer amid beautiful replicas of the place of the Holy Land, the Franciscan Monastery is staffed by Franciscans of the Holy Land. Part of their mission is the education of pilgrims and the financial support of the Holy Land pilgrim sites. They have extensive gardens with Rosary Portico, a replica of the Grotto of Lourdes and outdoor Stations of the Cross. Confessions are usually offered at the top of every hour and guided tours of the Catacombs below the church are also available daily.
Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton – Emmitsburg, MD: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) was a convert from the Episcopalian Church, wife and mother, and foundress of the American Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland. She is the first American-born saint.
Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel – Bensalem, PA: St. Katharine Drexel (1858-1955), a native of Philadelphia, founded the Religious Order of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament dedicated to apostolic work with the African American and Native American people. St. Katharine Drexel is known for her love of the Eucharist and her contribution to social justice.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa – Doyestown, PA: The Shrine dedicated to Our Lady was built in Pennsylvania by the Polish faithful living in America. It includes a main upper church, as well as many small chapels and an especially beautiful chapel with Our Lady of Czestochowa which is an exact replica of the chapel and sacred image found in the original Shrine in Jasna Gora, Poland.
Shrine of St. John Newmann, Philadelphia, PA: Born in Bohemia, St. John Newmann (1811-1860) became a missionary in the United States, entered the Redemptorist Order and eventually was named Bishop of Philadelphia. He established parochial schools, worked with youth, and promoted the 40 hours devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia – Philadelphia, PA: Augustinian nun (1381-1457)– Saint of the Impossible and advocate of difficult cases. The shrine has a beautiful upper church with bas-relief and stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the life of St. Rita as well as a Blessed Sacrament Chapel and reliquaries in the crypt below.
St. Frances Cabrini Shrine, New York, NY: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917) was born in Lombardy, Italy. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1880 in Codogno, Italy. Under the encouragement of Pope Leo XIII, she set out for the United States in 1889, where, for the next twenty years, she established many schools, hospitals and orphanages. Her missionary zeal also led her to South America where she founded schools in Argentina, Brazil and Nicaragua and elsewhere. Mother Cabrini died in Chicago on December 22, 1917, and on July 7, 1946 she became the first United States citizen to be canonized. Buried in Upper Manhattan upon her own request, she is the Universal Patroness of Immigrants.
National Shrine of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha – Fonda, NY: Having lost her parents at an early age, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) was raised among the Mohawks in the home of an uncle. There she first encountered Christian missionaries, and was baptized on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1676 in Fonda, NY near the Jesuit mission in Auriesville. Because of her baptism, her exemplary life, and her desire to remain a virgin, Kateri suffered great persecution. She died at age twenty-four known as the “Lily of the Mowhawks,” since she had given herself over entirely to care for the sick and long hours of prayer and penance. She was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II, and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 22, 2012.
Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs – Auriesville, NY: This is one of the shrines of the North American Martyrs, St Isaac Jogues, St Jean de Brebeuf, and company. Specifically, it is the place of the passion and death of St Rene Goupil, a lay missionary who became a Jesuit during his imprisonment. St Isaac Jogues lived to tell of his death and describe the place where his body was thrown, “the Ravine” a living reliquary. On the grounds there are various small shrines as well as the central church to accomodate pilgrims. Crisis Magazine recently featured the shrine and its latest updates: “Nature’s Own Reliquary”(August 11, 2016).
St. Francis Xavier Church – Kahnawake, Canada: St. Kateri’s body is buried in on the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, Quebec, just south of Montreal. Our sisters made a pilgrimage there in November 2012 in thanksgiving for all the graces we have received through her intercession as patroness of our novitiate and to celebrate her canonization with the whole Church.
St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount-Royal – Montreal, Canada was built through the devotion of Saint André Bessette (1845-1937), a religious brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Frère André, as he was called, was the porter of the community. He encouraged those who came to the door to pray to St. Joseph to obtain favors. Devotion to St. Joseph quickly spread as their prayers were answered. He worked tirelessly to build a shrine in honor of St. Joseph on the hill across from the Holy Cross school. The Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal is the largest church in the world dedicated to the Foster-Father of Our Lord. Brother André was canonized on October 17, 2010. The Shrine includes beautiful chapels in the crypt in honor of various avocations of St. Joseph, the small original oratory building, and the heart of St. André.