Holy Places to Pray on Vacation

Catholicism in the United States has a lot to offer to vacationers (and locals alike).

Gary Whitton/Shutterstock
Gary Whitton/Shutterstock )

CATHOLICISM COAST-TO-COAST. Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Philadelphia.  Gary Whitton / Shutterstock.com


For vacationing Catholics away on a Sunday, mapping out the closest Mass is important.

And on a weekday, maybe you want to attend a daily Mass or simply want to see what the local church has to offer.

Luckily, Catholicism in the United States has a lot to offer to vacationers (and locals alike).

Take St. Mary Church in Aspen, Colo. The highest-elevation parish in the nation is a sight to behold, and Mass is reverently celebrated.

The National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe in Orlando, Fla., another well-wrought church, has a large number of parishioners, but the bulk of its congregation comes from those visiting the city’s various theme parks.

Then there are the places where finding sites of beauty and interest are surprising.

Say, for example, you want to travel to the famous “Field of Dreams” from the classic 1980s film of the same name. (“If you build it, they will come,” and they still do.) Located in Dyersville, Iowa, people are constantly visiting the famous attraction. Fathers and sons play catch on the iconic field.

Just down the road is another attraction, the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, one of our nation’s few minor basilicas. Part of what this means is that if the Pope just happened to find himself in northeast Iowa, this would be his church. This gorgeous parish offers both forms of the Mass.

Northeast of there, Wisconsin is dotted with numerous Catholic sites. The Mound in Sinsinawa holds a must-see relic chapel. Venerable Samuel Mazzuchelli’s grave is in the churchyard at St. Patrick Church in nearby Benton. Father Mazzuchelli came to the United States from Italy in 1828, ministering to the Indians and settlers on the Midwestern frontier; he also founded a community of Dominican teaching sisters.

 Up the road are Dickeyville’s Grottos and La Crosse’s Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. To the east are the National Shrine of St. Philomena in Briggsville, the Shrine of St. Anne’s Hill in Plain, Holy Hill in Hubertus and the Gardens in Rudolph — plus the only approved Marian apparition in America, Our Lady of Good Help in Champion.

These lovely and prayerful spots are only some of what Catholic America has to offer, even though you occasionally have to leave the beaten path to find them. The reward, however, is well worth the effort.

What follows is a list of great places for the faithful to visit while on vacation — or at any time.


Shrines and Exceptionally Beautiful Churches

St. Paul Cathedral, Birmingham, Ala.

Any California mission

National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacramento, Calif.

National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi,

San Francisco

National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, Orlando, Fla.

Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, St. Augustine, Fla.

St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Savannah, Ga.

St. Benedict, Big Island, Hawaii

St. Augustine by the Sea, Honolulu

St. Francis, Molokai, Hawaii

St. Joseph, Maui, Hawaii

Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Oahu, Hawaii

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, Ill.

St. John Cantius, Chicago

National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe (aka Marytown), Libertyville, Ill.

Shrine of Christ’s Passion, St. John, Ind.

The Padilla Cross, Lyons, Kan.

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans

Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Boston

Divine Mercy Shrine, Stockbridge, Mass.

National Shrine of the Little Flower, Royal Oak, Mich.

St. Paul Cathedral, St. Paul, Minn.

Sacred Heart Cathedral, Winona, Minn.

St. Louis Cathedral, St. Louis

Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal,

Perryville, Mo.

Basilica of St. Lawrence, Asheville, N.C.

Holy Family Shrine, Gretna, Neb.

Shrine of Our Lord of Esquipulas, Chimayo, N.M.

Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer, Las Vegas

National Shrine of Our Lady of Victory,

Lackawanna, N.Y.

Shrine of Our Lady of the Island, Manorville, N.Y.

Our Lady of the Rosary, New York

St. Patrick Cathedral, New York

Shrine of the Infant of Prague, Prague, Okla.

National Sanctuary of the Sorrowful Mother, Portland, Ore.

Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Philadelphia

St. Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh

Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral, Dallas

Cathedral of the Madeleine, Salt Lake City

St. Andrew, Roanoke, Va.

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land

in America, Washington

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington

Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Campion, Wis.

Dickeyville Grotto, Dickeyville, Wis.

National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians,

Holy Hill, Wis.

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wis.

St. Ann Shrine, Plain, Wis.

Rudolph Grotto Gardens, Rudolph, Wis.


Saints’ Tombs

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.

Shrine of St. Damian at St. Philomena, Molokai, Hawaii

Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, New Orleans

Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg, Md.

Shrine of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne,

St. Charles, Mo.

Sisters of Charity Motherhouse, Convent Station, N.J.

Shrine of St. Frances Cabrini, New York

Shrine of St. Marianne Cope, Syracuse, N.Y.

Shrine of St. John Neumann, Philadelphia

Brian O’Neel writes from

Coatesville, Pennsylvania.