Make your journey of faith

Summer is a time of freedom, of escape from the usual routines of work and school. This escape often takes the form of vacation, but Catholics in the United States, whether or not they realize or appreciate it, have the opportunity to put their summer at the service of their faith.

Every region of the country is rich with churches, shrines and other points of interest for Catholics. And so Our Sunday Visitor offers this roundup of regional routes for Catholic road trips. We’ve listed websites with more information for visitors, as well as addresses for trip planning purposes.

We hope this is useful to our readers. Even if taking a trip is not realistic, learning about the heritage of the Church all over the country is a rewarding exercise in knowing and appreciating the Faith.

Michelle Scaperlanda McWay contributed to this story. Anamaria Scaperlanda Biddick writes from Oklahoma.

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The full route, replete with miraculous histories, is best suited for a weeklong road trip, while weekend travelers can make their way directly to Santa Fe.        

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Route Highlight

Mother Cabrini Shrine (1) in Golden, Colorado: In 1909, Mother Frances X. Cabrini purchased this land for her charges at the orphanage in Denver, despite the fact that no known water source existed on the property. A few years later, after sisters complained to her that they were dying of thirst, she answered, “Lift that rock over there and start to dig. You will find water fresh enough to drink and clean enough to wash.” The Spring has never stopped running and a replica of the Grotto in Lourdes, France, was built on the site.

After visiting the Mother Cabrini Shrine, glimpse Benedictine life and devotions at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert (2) in Abiquiu, New Mexico, for a day visit or a personal retreat — minimum of two nights. (See story on Page 8.) Be sure to stop at The Monk’s Corner Taproom for Benedictine beer and food from two neighboring restaurants before visiting the pilgrimage site of the miraculous healing dirt of Chimayo (3) . From there, journey through the desert to Santa Fe for a visit to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Asissi (4), the staircase with no nails at Loretto Chapel, the San Miguel Mission and New Mexican food at Coyote Mexican Café and Rooftop Cantina.

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Take a week to drive South from Seattle along the West Coast, or start in San Francisco for a long weekend trip focusing on the Spanish missions.

In Seattle, begin with 7:30 a.m. daily Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church. Pick up breakfast at Portage Bay Café on your way to St. James Cathedral with its beautiful stained glass dating to 1918. Head south to be immersed in the beauty of the woods at The Grotto, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sorrows. Stop for a mini-retreat or Benedictine beer at Mt. Angel Abbey on your way to San Francisco for the first of the Spanish missions, Mission de San Fransisco de Asis (1) ; a croissant at the iconic Tartine bakery; and a tour of the beautiful Church of Saint Francis of Assisi.

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Mission San Diego del Alcala

Continue south for additional missions founded by recently canonized St. Junipero Serra and his fellow Franciscans: Mission Santa Clara de Asis (2) in Santa Clara, Mission Santa Cruz (3) in Santa Cruz, Mission Carmel (4) in Carmel-By-The-Sea, Mission San Miguel Arcángel (5) in San Miguel, Mission Santa Barbara (6) in Santa Barbara, Mission San Luis Rey (7) in Oceanside and Mission San Diego del Alcala (8) in San Diego.

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Some 300 miles along the lake are bookended by pilgrimage sites dedicated to Our Lady.

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Begin in the towering woods of northern Wisconsin at the only approved Marian apparition site in the United States, Our Lady of Good Help (1) in New Franken, Wisconsin, and drive south to Holy Hill (2) in Hubertus, Wisconsin, for peace and beauty at a site long dedicated to Mary. In Milwaukee, attend mass at a 15th-century Gothic chapel, St. Joan of Arc Chapel (3) , and have a burger at Sobelman’s, both on Marquette University’s campus. Visit the Basilica of St. Josephat, built by Polish immigrants and a German architect out of rescued materials from the old Chicago post office. Venerate the relics of St. Maximilian Kolbe (4) in Libertyville, Illinois, which are particularly amazing since he was incinerated at Auschwitz. See Route 66 [above right] for Chicago sites before praying the Stations of the Cross at the Shrine of Christ’s Passion (5) in St. John, Indiana. Drive across the south side of Lake Michigan to pray at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (6) and light a candle at the Grotto, both on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

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Take the ultimate cross-country road trip with stops at shrines, relics and monasteries.

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Route 66 begins in Chicago, where you can venerate the arm of St. Jude the Apostle at the National Shrine of St. Jude (1) before journeying southwest to St. Louis to the Shrine of St. Joseph (2) , site of the miracle of St. Peter Claver. While there, stop at one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the country, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis and walk to lunch at Taste of Lebanon in the West End.

On the way through Oklahoma, you can take a slight detour to visit Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey (3) in Hulbert, Oklahoma, a growing monastery that developed indirectly out of the work of three professors at the University of Kansas in the late 1960s. Or head straight to Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma City National Memorial, then enjoy meatloaf for lunch at Kitchen 324. Visit the relics of recently beatified Blessed Stanley Rother at the Pastoral Center on your way to his home parish, Holy Trinity in Okarche (4), with fried chicken for dinner at Eischen’s Bar. See the Southwest Route for holy places in and around Santa Fe before reaching the West Coast and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.

Route Highlight

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Blessed Stanley Rother relics and hometown: The first U.S.-born martyr and first U.S.-born priest to be beatified, Blessed Stanley Rother was killed while a mission priest in Guatemala. His faithfulness to his vocation and his parishioners in the face of grave danger is an example to all. Learn more at the Catholic Pastoral Center’s exhibit and at his beautiful hometown parish. CNS photo

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A weekend drive through the Texas Hill Country will highlight the area’s history, from the early Spanish missionaries to Texas independence to the influx of German and Czech immigrants.

The largest concentration of missions in North America are located along the San Antonio River. Mission Concepcion (1), Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada (2) make up San Antonio Missions National Historic Park and continue to celebrate Mass. The Alamo, formerly Mission San Antonio de Valerio, exists as a museum commemorating the Battle of the Alamo and the period of Texas independence from Mexico. Visit Mi Tierra Café and Panaderia following your day touring the missions.

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From San Antonio, enter into the settlements of immigrants from Eastern Europe, beginning with the oldest Polish settlement in the United States, Panna Maria, and its Immaculate Conception Parish (3). From there, head to Shiner, Texas, for a tour of Sts. Cyril and Methodius (4) and the Spoetzel Brewery. Visit St. Mary’s High Hill (5) in Schulenburg, Texas, another Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church (6) in Dubina, Texas, and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church (7) in La Grange, Texas to complete your tour of the Painted Churches.

Route Highlight

St. Mary’s, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary: In the late 1800’s, German, Austrian and Czech immigrants came to Texas through the port on Galveston Island, naming their new hometowns for the places they left. The settlers worked to create the feeling of home in their churches too, and used colorful patterns and images to mimic the architecture they left behind. St Mary’s in High Hill is known as the Queen of the Painted Churches of Texas due to its ornate design, painting and windows. The current church was built in 1906, using windows from the 1876 church, and painted in 1912.

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A diverse route through the South, this trek has everything from the location of the first Mass in our country to the home of a Catholic literary giant.

Begin by venerating a relic of St. Padre Pio at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church (1) in Sarasota.

Pick up a Cuban sandwich at Café Havana before traveling to the site of the first Mass in America, Our Lady de la Leche Shrine (2) in St. Augustine, Florida.

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Here the trip turns literary: Visit the childhood home of famed Catholic fiction writer, Flannery O’Connor (3) in Savannah, Georgia, and walk across Lafayette Square for Liege waffles at Mirabelle Suites and Café. Before you drive across Georgia, check to see if O’Connor’s estate, Andalusia Farm (4) in Milledgeville has reopened. Make a mini-retreat — or a weekend retreat — at the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit (5) in Conyers, Georgia.

In Alabama, stop for shrimp and grits at Classic on Noble in Anniston, then pray at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament (6) in Hanceville, and marvel at the miniature reproductions of historic buildings and shrines throughout the world built by Brother Joseph Zoettl at the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman.

End your trip with a taste of Europe at New Orlean’s Jackson Square (7), visiting Café du Monde for beignets and St. Louis Cathedral for Mass and prayer.

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From our nation’s capital to the early roots of the Faith in upstate New York, meet some saints along the way.

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Begin your pilgrimage in the nation’s capital with replicas of the Holy Land at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America (1) in Washington, D.C., the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the newly renovated Saint John Paul II Shrine. In Emmitsburg, Maryland, visit the relics of the first American-born saint, moved to conversion by a Corpus Christi procession, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (2). In Philadelphia, venerate the bodies of St. John Neumann at the St. John Neumann shrine (3) and St. Katherine Drexel at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. Heading north, visit more saints, Blesseds and Venerables, including Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich (4) at the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, New Jersey, and Venerable Fulton Sheen at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Frances X. Cabrini (5) at the St. Frances X. Cabrini Shrine in New York.

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Journeying northward, stop at the Knights of Columbus Museum (6) in New Haven, Connecticut, and at least one of the immigrant churches built by millworkers at the turn of the 20th century, such as St. Ann’s (7) in Woonsocket, Rhode Island (no longer an active church). In Boston, be sure to visit Our Lady of Perpetual Help (8), the site of many documented healings, and spend time with our Lord in adoration at St. Clement’s Shrine. End your trip at the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs (9) in Fultonville, New York, and the St. Kateri Shrine in Fonda, New York, to visit the only canonized martyrs of the United States, French Jesuit missionaries, near the site of their death — the place of St. Kateri’s birth.

Route Highlight

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Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia: Built beginning in 1846 when a need for a larger cathedral was determined, the church took nearly 20 years to complete due to the bishop’s debt avoidance. With construction commencing less than two years after the Philadelphia Nativists Riots, the building’s windows were placed just above a stone’s throw to avoid anti-Catholic vandalism. Among the cathedral’s eight side chapels, there is one currently dedicated to St. Katherine Drexel that was originally donated by the saint herself, along with her sisters, in honor of their parents. Her body was moved to the church in 2017.