The Catholic Sentinel has reported steadily on West Coast pilgrimage sites — the California missions and the many monasteries and retreat houses in Oregon. But what about the Northeast?
Heavy with Catholic influence, the Northeast offers many shrines and holy sites that westerners may want to explore. Below, we catalogue some we found interesting.
Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs
Auriesville, New York
In the 1640s, Jesuit missionaries sought to build Catholic communities among the Mohawks, but were martyred. In 1885, the Jesuits purchased the location of the Mohwak village of Osserneon, the martyrdom site and birthplace of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. The museum next to the church is home to relics of the missionaries and their Mohawk converts, many of whom were lay leaders. You can visit the Way of the Cross that leads to the top of the hill where Father Jogues and Brother Groupil prayed during their captivity. The Jesuits have pulled out of tending the shrine, but a Catholic group is working to keep it open.
National St. Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine
Fonda, New York
Housed in a 1782 barn, the shrine is located a quarter of a mile from the only completely excavated Iroquois Indian village in the country. It’s the location where St. Kateri was baptized. The shrine includes a chapel modeled on the one in which St. Kateri was baptized. The lower floor holds a display of Indian artifacts from all of the Americas. There is also a miniature replica of the village of Caughnawagha so pilgrims can see what the Mohawk village was like 300 years ago.
Catholic Ground Zero Memorial
New York, New York
Not many people know it, but there is a Catholic memorial at St. Joseph Chapel on the southwest side of the World Trade Center. Four statues were created by artist John Collier for the memorial; St. Joseph (patron of construction workers), St. Michael the Archangel (patron of police), St. Florian (patron of firefighters), and St. Mary Magdalene (first witness to the resurrection).
Padre Pio Shrine, St. John the Baptist Church
New York, New York
The shrine has several relics of St. Padre Pio, two of which are on display year-round. One of the relics is a brown fingerless woolen glove the priest is famous for wearing to hide the stigmata on his palms. In the collection is a white linen sock that has stains of his blood from stigmata on his feet.
National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians
Stony Point, New York
In the Marian year of 1954, the Salesians of Don Bosco built a path for saying the rosary. It includes 15 life-sized marble statues. Pilgrims prayed along the trail. Eventually a shrine was built, including a 48-foot statue of Mary cast in Italy and blessed by St. John XXIII. Grottoes feature apparitions at Lourdes and Fatima and a modern church includes a soaring tower.
National Shrine of Divine Mercy
The 350-acre shrine offers many statues, candles and groves dedicated to the saints. The church has 36 stained-glass windows, Stations of the Cross imported from Spain and the image of Divine Mercy above the altar. To each side of the image are statues of the apostles that were hand-carved in Italy. A side chapel dedicated to St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun who had visions that began the Divine Mercy devotion. Scott Scaria of Poland Pilgrimages takes groups to the shrine and urges westerners to make a trip in the fall, when foliage will amaze those accustomed to evergreens.
St. Joseph Abbey
Trappist monks live in silence and solitude. Guests are invited to join some of the monastic prayer. Jam and ale are among the products that support the scenic abbey, which includes sturdy stone construction. St. Joseph Abbey owes its start to the French Revolution and anti-clericalism that followed. Monks looked to America. The buildings go back to the 1950s, but the community is about 200 years old, having had periods in Nova Scotia and Rhode Island. It was a group from the Rhode Island monastery that traveled to New Mexico and then moved to Oregon to start Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey near Lafayette.
St. Joseph the Worker Shrine
The church of St. Joseph was established in 1868 by Father André Marie Garin to serve Catholic immigrants working in Lowell’s textile mills. Over time it evolved into a workers’ shrine. Cardinal Richard Cushing rededicated the shrine to St. Joseph, patron of workers, in 1956. The unique church, which has arches reminiscent of steel girders, has a museum and gift shop.
St. Anne Shrine
Isle La Motte, Vermont
Century-old St. Anne Shrine is located on a quiet island on Lake Champlain. As early as 1666, the French erected a fort and chapel on Isle La Motte as their southernmost protection against attacks from native tribes. The chapel was dedicated to “la bonne Sainte Anne.” There is a Way of the Cross and many rustic grottoes dedicated to saints.
Our Lady of LaSalette Shrine
Enfield, New Hampshire
Founded in 1951, the shrine is near Lake Mascoma in a natural setting. On the grounds are a replica of the 1846 apparition site at LaSalette in France, a rosary pond, outdoor Stations of the Cross, the Calvary scene with Holy Stairs and a peace walk. The shrine is best known for the Christmas Festival of Lights dating back to 1953. Daily Mass, daily reconciliation, programs, events and ethnic pilgrimages happen year-round.