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Catholic Spiritual Direction

What is with this shrine and pilgrimage thing? Is this really important to my faith?

February 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Pilgrimage, Shrine

Our friends over at the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia have provided this answer for us:

Dear CSD, I am a recent convert and I don’t understand the whole “shrine” thing. What makes a shrine a shrine? Why do Catholics go to these places? Why should I care? Oh, one more thing, the “pilgrimage” thing I guess is also tied to shrines. What about that?

Well, lets begin with that “shrine thing” first, and then we can talk about the importance of those “pilgrimage things.” After that we will wrap up with a bit of specific information about the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia.

What is a shrine and why should I care?

For thousands of years people have been traveling on local and destination pilgrimages and from this we have seen hundreds of shrines emerge.  So, why should I care?  What is in it for me?  I go to Mass and live the Catholic Life, what else could a shrine have to offer?

A Shrine is officially defined as a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific martyr, saint, Our Blessed Mother or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated. A Shrine gives us another place to truly learn about our God, Our Blessed Mother and many of the saints, each one honoring and focusing on a story, a history and giving us better understanding our faith.

Those who come to the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia tell us that their visit is both a spiritual and physical journey.  Coming physically to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal’s altar, just as she told St. Catherine that we are to “Come to the altar and pray and great graces will be shed upon you,” brings a great sense of peace, reflection and even accomplishment.

Fr. Michael Shea, CM, Assistant Director of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal, tells us that “The  Irish call a place that you feel closer to God ‘A Thin Place’.  This refers to the veil between us and heaven feeling thinner, allowing a stronger feeling of God’s Love and graces wrap around you like a blanket of reassurance.”  This is a wonderful description of a shrine, where you can come, pray, lay your burdens and feel wrapped in God’s Love through Mary’s or another saint’s intercession on your behalf.

Shrines are a place of learning, love and refuge from our hectic and sometimes spiritually deprived lives.  Shrines are often associated with intercessory prayers for healing of various ailments or other troubles.  And they bring Catholics together in community of prayer and their faith.

Why are pilgrimages important? 

By definition, a pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith. Many religions attach spiritual importance to particular places: the place of birth or death of founders or saints; the place of their “calling” or spiritual awakening; place where they believe miracles were performed or witnessed; or locations where a deity is said to live or be “housed”.

Taking time for your spiritual well being and/or physical healing is an important part of our journey here on earth as Catholics.  Through a pilgrimage, we can find solace in the planning, traveling and visiting of shrines themselves.  When a pilgrim comes to the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or back from a pilgrimage from another shrine they seem to be filled with the Holy Spirit and excited to share about their wonderful experience.

The 100 + shrines in the United States and hundreds all over the world are gifts of our Faith given and waiting to be received.  They are God’s gifts waiting to help us find more of Heaven’s great graces through understanding and prayer.

More Information about the Miraculous Medal Shrine

In 1830, the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830 three times.  The first time, to tell her of troubling times to come and job she had for Catherine.  The second time, appearing as the Mother of the World, holding a globe with a cross on top. The third time, depicted in what we now call the Miraculous Medal, hands outstretched, standing on the globe, crushing the snake, with rays of graces shining down on the world.  The details of the medal were very specific.  The Blessed Mother said that people who wore the medal around their necks and prayed would be blessed with special graces.

The Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pa has been a favorite place of pilgrimage and retreats  for Catholics in Philadelphia and surrounding areas for almost a century.  In 1927, Vincentian Father Joseph Skelly, the founder of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal, introduced nine-day novenas in what was then the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1879.

Fr. Carl Pieber, C.M., Executive Director of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal , believes the Shrine “is a special place of prayer and solace for many people.  It is the place where the Blessed Mother becomes our mother, and as our mother we come to her when we are in pain and in need of help.”

Thousands of people come to the Shrine, located at 500 E. Chelten Ave, Phila, PA 19144 every week to attend one of the nine Monday Novenas.  The Shrine also hosts  throughout the week many pilgrimage groups who come for Tours and a special Novena or a Religious Retreat of their own design.

There are many beautiful shrines within this Shrine, all dedicated to Our Lady.  The center of Marian devotion at the Shrine is a side chapel which has a large marble sculpture of Mary as she is depicted on what is now known as the “Miraculous Medal.”

A Marian Museum, located across the street from the Miraculous Medal Shrine, contains 500+ pieces of art dedicated to the Blessed Mother.  The museum also contains one of the original Miraculous Medals that was in the possession of St. Catherine Laboure.

We will be celebrating a Summer 9 Day Novena on the Rosary. Beginning June 11th and ending June 19th.  See the web for details www.MiraculousMedal.org

For more information email Lizanne@CAMMonline.org or call 215-848-1010 at the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal.  Photos available upon request – www.MiraculousMedal.org

About the Miraculous Medal:

In 1830, the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830 three times.  The first time, to tell her of troubling times to come and job she had for Catherine.  The second time, appearing as the Mother of the World, holding a globe with a cross on top. The third time, depicted in what we now call the Miraculous Medal, hands outstretched, standing on the globe, crushing the snake, with rays of graces shining down on the world.  The details of the medal were very specific.  The Blessed Mother said that people who wore the medal around their necks and prayed would be blessed with special graces.

The Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pa has been a favorite place of pilgrimage and retreats  for Catholics in Philadelphia and surrounding areas for almost a century.  In 1927, Vincentian Father Joseph Skelly, the founder of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal, introduced nine-day novenas in what was then the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1879.

Fr. Carl Pieber, C.M., Executive Director of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal , believes the Shrine “is a special place of prayer and solace for many people.  It is the place where the Blessed Mother becomes our mother, and as our mother we come to her when we are in pain and in need of help.”

Thousands of people come to the Shrine, located at 500 E. Chelten Ave, Phila, PA 19144 every week to attend one of the nine Monday Novenas.  The Shrine also hosts  throughout the week many pilgrimage groups who come for Tours and a special Novena or a Religious Retreat of their own design.

There are many beautiful shrines within this Shrine, all dedicated to Our Lady.  The center of Marian devotion at the Shrine is a side chapel which has a large marble sculpture of Mary as she is depicted on what is now known as the “Miraculous Medal.”

A Marian Museum, located across the street from the Miraculous Medal Shrine, contains 500+ pieces of art dedicated to the Blessed Mother.  The museum also contains one of the original Miraculous Medals that was in the possession of St. Catherine Laboure.

We will be celebrating a Summer 9 Day Novena on the Rosary. Beginning June 11th and ending June 19th.  See the web for details www.MiraculousMedal.org

For more information email Lizanne@CAMMonline.org or call 215-848-1010 at the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal.  Photos available upon request – www.MiraculousMedal.org

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the founder of Catholic Spiritual Direction, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and author of the award winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Lisa

    Someone new to the Catholic Faith is great! I would tell them this, Go get a prayer book on novenas, Look at all the Novenas for the Shrines that we have in the world. Pray one or all. Ask for what your needs are. As you watch your miracles unfold, I think it will drive you to want to go to the shrines! Its a great Blessing for all of us in the World to have! God Bless!

  • Pingback: FRIDAY AFTERNOON EDITION | ThePulp.it

  • http://thewayoutthere1.blogspot.com/ Fr_Levi
  • http://thewayoutthere1.blogspot.com/ Fr_Levi

    Perhaps a little more info on St Catherine would be no harm? http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10115a.htm

  • Alexandra Campbell

    Great info, wish I could visit a shrine. My top choice for a pilgrimage is Fatima! It is definitely on my spiritual bucket list, right after Rome!

    Perhaps I can at least make it the new shrine where apparitions were approved in Wisconsin..I forget what it is called.

    • Dom C

      We went to the shrine in Wisconsin in September – Our Lady of Good Help.  Awesome experience.  You can stay on the east end of Green Bay and drive over to the shrine – about 30-45 min. away — spend some time in the shrine/grotto itself, say the rosary at the outdoor stations, and go to Mass.

      • judeen

        where is the shrine the lady of good help – in wisconson?

  • judeen

    shrines… we walked to the black madonna shrine in missouri, 2 nights and a day, or so, we walked and prayed some for the u.s. and others for special attentions.. fasting on bread and water… bloody ft. and exhaustion we arrived and prayed..
        the shrines are a place to go , to seek God in a very special way.. many have crutches , wheel chairs, so on, from healings there, like the sorrowful mother shrine in ohio? dont remember.. a pilgramage is fasting and praying in Honor of God and a closer relationship to Him… it would be nice to have a map of shrines in the U.S, many people want to see them but do not know where to go… to pray… and to learn more about the love of God , in our saints and angles, and that we can acceive with faith of a musturd seed… we need to know the miricals God does and will do 

  • PhilOFS

    I recently visit two shrines in Philadelphia: St. John Neumann and St. Katherine Drexel. Beautiful and holy experiences at both. Praise God for our Catholic faith.

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Amen!

  • Rustyrusticator

    Now that the date of canonization of Blessed Kateri has been set (Oct. 21, 2012) if I can’t manage to afford a trip to Rome for the event, my second option is a pilgrimage trip to Auriesville NY for that date.  I, and many other members of my native nation (Seneca) have been praying for her cause for years, and now we’re praying prayers of thanksgiving.  I did hear that some of the Mohawks might be going to Rome for the canonization ceremony, and am waiting to see if they put together a pilgrimage package that’s more affordable than independent travel, but so far that seems to be just a reservation rumor.  Ah, well!