Sara and Justin Kraft
The Ultimate List of The Catholic Shrines in the USA
What is a shrine? A shrine is a church or other sacred place which has the approval of the local bishop and which is visited by the faithful as pilgrims (Canon 1230). While sometimes it can be a burial place of a saint or Marian apparition, more commonly it is erected as a center for specific devotion. "What Catholic Shrines are near me?" You can find a full listing of all shrines within the United States here, but we've selected the most prominent shrines in each state for you here. For most, we have provided just the name, location, and focus of spiritual devotion. However, a slightly longer description provided for a few of sites to give the reader a sense of the historical importance and the interesting stories that are typical of the Catholic Shrines. Are these Awesome Catholic Shrines on Your List?
1. Hanceville, Alabama: The Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament
In 1995, Mother Angelica (Founder of EWTN) heard the words giving her a new mission to build a shrine honoring the True Presence of Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. After returning to Alabama, she shared the story with her community and 5 generous donors offered to completely fund this project. The Shrine is modeled on the great Italian churches of the 13th century.
2. Juneau, Alaska: Shrine of Saint Therese
The Shrine of St. Therese began as the dream of Fr. William G. LeVasseur, S.J. (Society of Jesus). St. Therese of Lisieux is the patron saint of Alaska, missionaries, and the Diocese of Juneau. In 1932, 5 acres of forest reserve land was secured from the federal government and a lodge was built to house the workers. The shrine is 22 miles north of downtown Juneau.
3. Tucson, Arizona: Mission San Xavier del Bac
In 1783, Franciscan missionary Fr. Juan Bautista Velderrain began construction on the present church using money borrowed from a rancher. The church’s purpose was to provide a place of refuge for the natives who had converted to Christianity as well as for the priests and settlers in the area.
In 1821, San Xavier became part of Mexico. With the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the Mission joined the United States. In 1872, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet opened a school at the Mission. The Mission is still the parish church for area Native Americans today.
4. Carmel, California: San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission Basilica and Museum San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo
Mission Basilica and Museum was founded in 1771 by Fr. Serra. It was the first of the California missions. The first Church and dwellings were made of wood and mud. From Carmel, Fr. Serra oversaw the building of seven other Missions in California.
After California became the thirty-first state of the Union, the United States government returned the Mission to the Catholic Church in 1859. It was in ruins.
Restoration of the Mission began in 1884 and continues to this day. In 1933 the greatest period of restoration began. Work was started on the padres’ quarters which today houses artifacts of the early mission days.
5. Golden, Colorado: Mother Cabrini Shrine
In 1909 -1910, Mother Cabrini purchased land in Golden to be used as a summer camp for her charges at the Queen of Heaven Orphanage in Denver, Colorado. All of the water needed for both drinking and cooking had to be brought up from the stream at the bottom of the canyon. In September 1912, the sisters complained to Mother Cabrini. 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, which is housed in an 8,000-gallon tank, has never stopped running. It also houses a Stairway of Prayer, a grotto, and a convent.
6. Saint Augustine, Florida: Our Lady of La Leche Shrine and Mission of Nombre de Dios
Mission Nombre de Dios traces its origins to the founding of the City of St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, in 1565. On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés landed and proclaimed this site for Spain and the Church. It was at this sacred spot that the Spanish settlers would begin the devotion to Our Lady of La Leche that continues into the present. They built the first shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the early 1600s. It was later destroyed by hurricanes and attacks, and the present structure was built in 1915.
Additionally, the mission houses a cross over 200 feet tall and an outdoor altar commemorating the first Mass celebrated here on September 8, 1565 by the first Spanish settlers to arrive. This Mass of Thanksgiving is widely believed to be the First Thanksgiving on the continent, over 50 years before the Pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth Rock in 1621.
7. Atlanta, Georgia: Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
This first church in Atlanta was originally built in 1848. Fr. Thomas O’Reilly, the pastor of the Church and its missions, gave aid both in the field and in makeshift hospitals to soldiers on both sides of the conflict. After hearing of an order to destroy and burn the city of Atlanta in 1864, Fr. O’Reilly warned General Slocum if they continued to attempt to burn down the Catholic Church, Sherman would face massive desertions of the Catholics in the Federal ranks. During Sherman’s burning of Atlanta, some of these Federal soldiers did help to protect the church by preventing the setting of fires too near the church building.
8. Molokai, Hawaii: Shrine of St. Damien of Molokai
In 1873, Fr. Damien arrived to care for leprosy patients secluded to the Hawaiian island. He did everything possible to doctor them and advocate to the United States government for their care. Instead of staying for only three months, he volunteered to stay indefinitely.
9. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho: Cataldo Mission State Park
This Nineteenth-century Franciscan mission was built at the request of the Native Americans. The mission was built without the use of nails yet still remains today despite years of neglect.
10. Belleville, Illinois: The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows
Located just outside Saint Louis, this outdoor shrine is visited by over 1 million people each year. This shrine celebrates a devotion which arose in Rome in the 300’s.
11. West Bend, Iowa: The Grotto of the Redemption
The grotto is the artistic work of Father Paul Matthias Dobberstein, a German immigrant and priest. The Grotto fulfills the promise Father Dobberstein to build a shrine to Our Lady in response to her intercession during a bout with pneumonia. The Grotto is carved and constructed from natural stones which took over a decade to gather.
12. New Orleans, Louisiana: The Basilica of the Cathedral of St. Louis
The Cathedral of St. Louis overlooks the city square of New Orleans. The original church was one of the first buildings in the city. However, it was destroyed in a tragic fire. The second Cathedral was completed in 1794. In this, “Year of Mercy” proclaimed by Pope Francis one may receive a plenary indulgence for passing through the designated “Holy Doors” at the Cathedral.
13. Kennebunkport, Maine: Saint Anthony Franciscan Monastery
Built in 1952, the shrine honors St. Anthony. The shrine provides a beautiful setting for visitors to come to pray and relax.
14. Emmittsburg, Maryland: National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
This shrine pays homage to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American born canonized saint. Mother Seton, was the foundress of Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph’s. Her remains are entombed in the Alter of Relics.
15. Boston, Massachusetts: Saint Clement Eucharistic Shrine
The Saint Clement Eucharistic Shrine is a house of prayer and Eucharistic Adoration located in the Back Bay area of Boston. The shrine hosts round the clock adoration 7 days/week with exception of a 2-hour break (from 8am-10am) Saturday mornings in which it is closed for cleaning.
16. St. Louis, Missouri: The Shrine of Saint Joseph
The shrine of Saint Joseph is the site of two miracles. The first miracle involved Mr. Ignastious Strecker. Mr. Strecker was injured in a work accident which led to a mysterious and incurable illness. In time, Mr. Stecker was pronounced to have 2 weeks to live. It was at this time that a Jesuit missionary priest came to preach a mission at St. Joseph’s. He brought with him a relic of St. Peter Claver. Upon hearing the story of St. Peter Claver’s powerful intercession, she encouraged her husband to implore St. Peter Claver for a miracle. The next day, Mr. Strecker managed to make his way to St. Joseph’s where he received a blessing with the relic of St. Peter Claver. The miracle was formally declared authentic by the Catholic Church in 1887.
In regard to the second miracle, you will just have to visit the shrine to find out what it is.
17. Las Vegas, Nevada: Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer
Appropriately situated in “Sin City” the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer celebrates the saving power of Jesus who delivers us from our sins.
18. Colebrook, New Hampshire: National Shrine of Our Lady of Grace
Built in 1948 by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, this shrine was built in thanksgiving for numerous blessings.
19. Newark, New Jersey: The National Shrine of Saint Gerard
Housed in St. Lucy’s Catholic Church, the Shrine celebrates the life of St. Gerard. Although not an official title granted by the church, St. Gerard is known popularly as the patron saint of mothers.
20. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Loretto Chapel
It is an architectural wonder. The Loretto Chapel houses a staircase of mysterious origin. In 1878, the sisters were left without access to the choir loft 22 feet above the main chapel. After hiring carpenters, they were told that it would be impossible to construct a staircase in the small space. After praying for the intercession of Saint Joseph a mysterious carpenter entered the town. He proceeded to build the beautiful spiral staircase (without nails) and then left town without accepting payment.
21. New York, New York: The Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The original Cathedral of the Archdiocese of New York, St. Patrick’s is situated in the heart of New York City. The Cathedral is over 200 years old.
22. Bloomington, Ohio: Catholic Family Land
Operated by the Apostolate for Family Consecration, Catholic Family Land hosts “Holy Family Fests” which are designed to provide faith enriching family vacations.
23. Portland, Oregon: National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother
This shrine provides a sanctuary of prayer within the busy city. It consists of a grotto and botanical gardens.
24. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: National Shrine of Saint John Neumann
Make a pilgrimage to the tomb of deceased Bishop of Philadelphia and now saint, St. John Neumann.
25. Nasonville, Rhode Island: Shrine of St. Therese of Lisieux
The first shrine dedicated to St. Therese of Lisieux in the world. It was founded just 4 months after St Therese was canonized.
26. Charleston, South Carolina: St. Mary of the Annunciation
One of the oldest churches in the South, it was the mother church for the Carolina’s and Georgia. The parish was founded in 1788 and the church was built over the next several years. The church was destroyed by fire in 1838 and the rebuilt church has also survived several other natural disasters.
27. Yankton, South Dakota: The House of Mary
It was founded in 1971 by a young couple, Ed and Jane English, who were inspired by the advice of a priest to “save a portion for God.” The shrine features three crosses overlook Lewis and Clark Lake.
28. Panna Maria, Texas: Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception
Texas is not known for its Polish heritage, but it is home of Panna Maria (the first Polish settlement in the U.S) and the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the oldest Polish Catholic Church in America. Founded in 1855, the original church was destroyed in a fire. The current church was built in 1877. The term Panna Maria means Virgin Mary.
29. Ilse de la Motte, Vermont: Shrine of Saint Anne
Dedicated to St. Anne, who has long been looked upon as the patroness of Vermont.
30. Olympia, Washington: Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Shrine in honor of one of the oldest images of Our Lady, the icon Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
31. Nearby Green Bay, Wisconsin: Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help
The site of the only formally approved Marian apparition in the U.S. (Formally approved in 2010). The shrine is located at the site of Mary’s appearance to Adele Brise in 1859. Mary appeared to young Adele and instructed her to “Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”
32. Washington D.C.: National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
The largest church in North America, the National Shrine is dedicated to being the National Sanctuary of Prayer and Pilgrimage by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Shrine dedicated to the Blessed Mother and features numerous beautiful mosaics. It is truly a site to be seen.
33. Orlando, Florida: Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Queen of the Universe
This shrine may be a bit more worth your time than Disneyworld. If you ever visit Orlando swing by to view its beautiful outdoor chapel, Rosary garden, and various lovely architectural embellishments.
34. Stockbridge, Massachusetts: Divine Mercy Shrine
This shrine is in honor of the devotion to Divine Mercy, revealed to St. Faustina, a Polish nun and mystic.
35. Uniontown, Pennsylvania: Mount St. Macrina
The Sisters of St. Basil founded this shrine in honor of St. Macrina--the sister of St. Basil.
36. Royal Oak, Michigan: Shrine of the Little Flower
Built in the 1930's this shrine has a distinctive and beautiful Art Deco style.
37. Carey, Ohio: Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation
This beautiful shrine holds a statue of Our Lady of Consolation that is an exact replica of statue standing in Luxembourg--where devotion to Our Lady under this title spread in the mid-1600s.
38. Hubertus, Wisconsin: Shrine of Mary Help of Christians
Located at the peak of the beautiful landscapes of "Holy Hill," this shrine is truly a sight to behold from near and far.
39. San Juan, Texas: Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle National Shrine
This shrine hosts over one million visitors per year. You should be one of them.
40. Auriesville, New York: National Shrine of North American Martyrs
This shrine commemorates the early missionaries in North American that were martyred during their work ministering to the native tribes of the New World.