The pilgrimage is an ancient Catholic spiritual practice. It is an opportunity to journey to the Lord in body, mind, and soul. Many of us have dreams of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land or walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, but those pilgrimages often take more resources than we have available. The good news is that you don’t have to travel out of the country to make a meaningful pilgrimage. There are plenty of beautiful holy sites right here in the United States!
Below are just 7 of the many Catholic pilgrimages you can make all over the United States.
1. Walk to Mary Pilgrimage – Wisconsin
This pilgrimage is coming up on Saturday, May 5th and will give you the chance to see two beautiful shrines in one day. The Walk to Mary is a 21-mile walking pilgrimage from the National Shrine of Saint Joseph in De Pere, Wisconsin, to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin. Relevant Radio® is a sponsor of the event, and many of our associates and listeners will be in attendance, including Father Rocky, Executive Director. It’s a beautiful, spiritual journey that is sure to strengthen your faith. Find out more and register for the pilgrimage here.
2. California Missions Trail – California
The 21 California Missions were founded when California was still controlled by Spain. They were established by Franciscan Missionaries (including St. Junipero Serra) and are some of the oldest historical sites in the entire United States. The missions span from San Diego to north of San Francisco and are beautiful reminders of our country’s Catholic history. Relevant Radio host Patrick Madrid is leading a pilgrimage along the California Missions Trail June 3-10. You can find more information and register here.
3. St. Peregrine Cancer Shrine – Arizona
St. Peregrine is the patron saint of cancer patients, and thus the St. Peregrine Cancer Shrine in Mesa, AZ is dedicated to those battling cancer. For those who are receiving treatment or have a loved one receiving treatment at nearby Ironwood or MD Anderson Cancer Centers, a pilgrimage to the St. Peregrine Cancer Shrine can be a place for spiritual healing and strength. Visitors who are cancer patients, or know someone who is, are invited to post prayer petitions, which are left on the wall of the shrine for the entire month. Visitors to the shrine are also encouraged to write notes of support for those suffering from cancer. These notes are then sorted and delivered to cancer patients.
4. The San Antonio Missions – Texas
Did you know that the Alamo in Texas is actually a shrine? This famous historical site was the chapel of the fort that was lost in the Texas revolution, and is the only building still standing from that infamous battle. It is one of five missions in the San Antonio area that were built hundreds of years ago, all within a few miles of each other. So, if you are planning to visit the Alamo, make it into a pilgrimage by travelling to the other missions as well! More information can be found here.
5. Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche – Florida
The first shrine in America that was dedicated to Our Lady, the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche is located on the grounds of the Mission of Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine, FL. Thousands of people make a pilgrimage to this shrine every year to ask for Our Lady of La Leche’s intercession for the blessing of motherhood, for a safe delivery, and for healthy children. You can find out more information here.
6. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Washington, D.C.
Located in our nation’s capital, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest church in the United States, and among the 10 largest churches in the world. The USCCB has designated the Basilica as a pilgrimage church, and with more than 70 chapels and oratories that relate to the Blessed Mother and peoples from countries around the world, one can spend hours taking in the beauty of this site while praying and connecting with the Lord in a new way. More information and a virtual tour of the basilica can be found here.
7. National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette – Massachusetts
In 1846, Our Lady appeared to two children in the small town of La Salette, France. This apparition led to the founding of a religious order, the Missionaries of La Salette. Their shrine in Attleboro, Massachusetts is a peaceful place to make a retreat, or just visit for a day of prayer. Their Christmas Festival of Lights is a magnificent display, and many families have made a pilgrimage to the shrine an annual holiday tradition.
Looking for something closer to home? EpicPew has a list of 100+ Catholic pilgrimage sites in the United States. You’re sure to find something in your neck of the woods!