Whether you turn into a beach bum in the warm weather or you’re more of a mountain climber, there are plenty of incredible pilgrimage destinations to visit right here in the United States. Here are eight of our favorites!
1. Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama
Always wanted to visit the Holy Land but can’t make it to Israel? Take a drive down to Cullman, Alabama and visit “Jerusalem in Miniature.” It’s a four acre park that includes over a hundred representations of the shrines and sites throughout the world. In addition to the holy sites from Israel, you’ll also find miniature replicas of Montserrat and St. Peter’s Basilica!
While you’re in Cullman, stop by and check out the first and only Benedictine Abbey in Alabama. The abbey is open every day and has dining and overnight accommodations after a long day on the road!
2. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
The largest Roman Catholic Church in North America and one of the ten largest churches in the world, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a must see if you’re going to the East Coast this summer.
There’s over eighty chapels and oratories within the walls of the church. Make sure to stop into the National Shrine, which has been visited by Saint Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Take advantage of the trip planner on the shrine’s website.
3. Holy Family Shrine in Gretna, Nebraska
Created in 1997 by four anonymous Catholics (including an architect and a landscape architect!), the Holy Family Shrine was destroyed in a wind storm in 2000. But after a few redesigning sessions, the shrine was resurrected and reopened. Now, pilgrims can attend Mass every Saturday morning and participate in Eucharistic Adoration on first Friday evenings.
Glass walls, water features, and a skylit lobby bring the beauty of Nebraska nature inside the walls of the shrine. If you’re not in the Midwest for vacation, check out the virtual tour of the shrine!
4. National Shrine of Our Lady of the Martyrs in Auriesville, New York
Dedicated to three Jesuit missionary martyrs and Saint Kateri Tekawitha, the Shrine of Our Lady of the Martyrs covers six hundred acres. Pilgrims are encouraged to attend Mass, attend a tour, and visit the museum on the shrine grounds.
In 1930, a coliseum was built at the shrine. It’s one of the first circular churches built in the United States. You can find out more about the shrine grounds and pilgrimage opportunities on the shrine website.
5. El Santuario de Chimayó in Chimayó, New Mexico
Known as the “Lourdes of America,” this is one of the most famous shrines in the American Southwest. More than 300,000 pilgrims make their way to the shrine each year.
A small room called “el pocito,” or “the little well,” contains a round pit full of “holy dirt.” Some visitors stay in Albuquerque and make the trip to the shrine by foot, walking more than ninety miles. If you vacation in June, make sure to celebrate the feast of Saint James the Great at the church!
6. The Tomb of Blessed Stanley Rother in Oklahoma City
After serving as an associate pastor in Oklahoma for five years, Father Stanley Rother traveled to Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala to serve on mission. Despite the civil war in Guatemala and threats on his life, Father Rother stayed with the people he served, saying “the shepherd cannot run.” He was martyred in 1981, becoming the first United States born martyr.
Father Rother’s body is now buried in Oklahoma. However, his heart remains enshrined in Guatemala at the parish mission in Santiago Atitlan. Plans for a shrine complex are still in the works, but pilgrims can visit the American martyr’s burial site today.
Visit in July and celebrate the first-ever Feast Day for Blessed Stanley Rother!
7. Shrine of the Holy Relics in Maria Stein, Ohio
What a better pilgrimage to make with your family than to honor and intercede to members of your Heavenly family? Check out the Maria Stein Shrine of Holy Relics, which was founded in 1875 by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
The shrine is home to over a thousand relics, which makes it the second-largest collection of relics in the United States. 95% of the relics are first class. Pilgrims can request a tour or roam the grounds on their own.
8. Cataldo Mission State Park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
The oldest building in Idaho, Mission of the Sacred Heart was constructed by the Coeur d’Alene Indians between 1850 and 1853. Using only simple tools and materials, the mission doesn’t contain a single nail.
Pilgrims can visit the Sacred Encounters Exhibit, which tells the story of how the Jesuits came to the Northwest.