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BIS LIVES Blog

Finding a Pilgrimage Site Wherever You Go

how to take a pilgrimage

One of my favorite things to do to prepare for a trip is to make a list. This list includes beautiful places to sightsee and to hike, restaurants to sample the local cuisine, and places to remain prayerful while traveling.

On an upcoming summer trip to Bermuda, I was excited to find several churches in the area, offering plenty of options for where to go for Mass. But upon closer examination, I had to be careful to differentiate between the Anglican churches and the Roman Catholic churches. Being a British Territory, Bermuda has many Anglican churches, and it took a bit of digging to determine which Churches offered valid Sacraments. Once I did, a few new Catholic pilgrimage sites were added to my travel list. One includes the oldest Catholic Church on the island.

Finding a Pilgrimage Site Wherever You Go

Sometimes it might take some sifting through, but I have yet to visit an area that doesn’t offer a Catholic church in close proximity. Whether you are making an international trip this summer, or sticking closer to home, chances are there will be a Catholic site for you to visit.

Here are a few places to start.

Out East

One unexpected site that I came across while accompanying my husband on a work trip to Boston was inside a shopping mall! Tucked inside a corner of Boston’s Prudential Center is the Saint Francis Chapel, which was built in 1969. The chapel is staffed by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary.

The mission of the chapel is to provide a place of refuge for those to find peace in the middle of a busy day, in a busy world. Inside of this little chapel of a massive mall are relics, including a bone of St. Faustina, as well as pieces of hair from both Pope St. John Paul II and St. Maximilian Kolbe.

This chapel not only offers a quiet place to pray, but also offers three Masses every day during the work week. There are seven Mass times offered on Sunday, including one in Spanish, as well as daily Confession and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Saint Francis Chapel is surely a breath of fresh air in a busy, fast-paced mall.

The Midwest

Did you know that near Green Bay, Wisconsin, you can find the only approved Marian apparition site in the United States? The apostolate of this shrine draws from the heart of its visionary, Sister Adele Brice, who began seeing visions of the Blessed Mother in 1859.

Sister Adele received from Our Lady a twofold message: the first was a mission of prayer for the conversion of sinners, and the second was to teach the catechism so that souls might come to know Jesus and obtain salvation (making this site an especially perfect place for you to pray for strength in your vocation if you are a religion teacher).

The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin was named a National Shrine by Bishop David Ricken on the Feast of the Assumption in 2016.

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The West Coast

A few girlfriends and I traveled to Napa for a wine-tasting weekend a few months before my wedding. Through word-of-mouth and a little bit of research, we were able to find a resort which had an on-site chapel and was connected to a vineyard and wine cellar owned and operated by a Catholic family.

Also serving as a retreat for visiting priests who are willing to say Mass, it was such an awesome experience to wake up and go to daily morning Mass at the Chapel of Our Lady of Grapes. And it was just a short walk from our hotel room!

Heading South

As mentioned, there always seem to be wonderful Catholic places to visit, from an approved Marian apparition site to a small chapel inside of a resort. Of course, there are also more well-known places to visit as well, like in Sante Fe, New Mexico. You can visit the Loretto Chapel which is home to a miraculous wooden staircase believed to be built by Saint Joseph, patron of carpenters.

This staircase has two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support.

Jet-Setting Across the Sea

If you are looking for a pilgrimage site to visit in another country, visit Catholic Passport, a website created by one of Blessed is She’s very own writers. This website was created by Rose Coleman in order to help others plan their own Catholic pilgrimage, whether it be a solo trip or one with friends and family. On her site, she has a 12-step list for planning your pilgrimage, as well as an extensive list of countries where she offers ideas for visiting. For instance, if you are going to Paris, check out the beautiful Sacre-Coeur and the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal, perhaps say a prayer at the ruins of Notre-Dame. If you’re heading to Florence, don’t miss the Basilica de Santa Croce.

When it comes to traveling, be it near or far, there are countless places to pray. It may take a little time to find a Catholic site in a remote village. But even there, there’s hope of finding a gem. Find your next destination and pencil it into your calendar!

Have you ever been to one of these pilgrimage sites?

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Susanna Parent is a regular contributor to the BIS blog. She serves as Evangelization Manager for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in the Office of Evangelization. She is a recent graduate of the Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry program with the School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas. When she’s not reading and writing you can find her enjoying life with her new husband, brewing French press coffee in her kitchen, reading wine labels with friends in an effort to discover the perfect Pinot Noir and blogging about her travel adventures. You can find out more about her here.

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