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“To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendor and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe.” Pope Benedict XVI


So, What IS a Pilgrimage?

Simply put, a pilgrimage is a spiritual journey.


It can be made anywhere, by anyone, for just about any spiritual purpose. For Catholics, it means traveling to a destination, whether it is a holy site, outdoor space, or even near to home, to experience God in a unique way.


The goal is always transformation. Anyone can travel to a location, but the pilgrim seeks to encounter something deeper. In that way, a pilgrimage is never truly finished, because hopefully you will come back changed, unable to return to old ways of living or thinking.


It is also more intentional. A pilgrimage is far more than an itinerary which includes cathedrals and Christian historical sites. It is an intentional encounter with the story of God’s work in the world. Pilgrims are there to pray, celebrate Mass, and reflect on the significance of these places, to fully enter these sacred places with their hearts, minds, and souls.


Pilgrimage Sites around Wisconsin!

  • St. Joan of Arc Chapel (Milwaukee) - St. Joan of Arc Chapel is located on Marquette University's campus in Milwaukee. It is situated on the south side of campus, west of the Raynor Memorial Libraries.  Mystery has surrounded the "Joan Stone," which sits at the base of an opening behind the altar. Legends say St. Joan prayed to the Virgin Mary while standing on this stone. After finishing her prayer, St. Joan knelt and kissed the stone. Ever since, the stone has remained colder than those around it.

  • Basilica of Saint Josaphat (Milwaukee) - The Basilica of Saint Josaphat is a Minor Basilica created by Pope Pius XI in 1929 (the third church so honored in the USA). It fulfilled the necessary characteristics required by the Church to be so designated. Namely: it is a place of pilgrimage and special devotion, it is a center of historic significance for the Faith, and it is architecturally and artistically qualified for such an honor. In the Catholic Church, basilica status is reserved for the largest, most beautiful, and most historically important churches. In 1929, St. Josaphat Church was named the third basilica in the United States. Today there are over sixty in the United States. It is as close as we get to a European Cathedral. It is the largest church in Milwaukee, with a seating capacity of over 1,000 on the main floor, hundreds more can be accommodated in the galleries.

  • Old Saint Mary’s Catholic Church (Milwaukee) - Old Saint Mary Parish and the City of Milwaukee, both established in 1846, are the same age. This pioneer parish stands as living testimony of the faith of Milwaukee’s early German Catholic immigrants.

  • Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist (Milwaukee) - The cathedral was the work of the first bishop of Milwaukee, Swiss-born John Martin Henni, who served as head of the local Catholic Church from 1843-1881. When Henni arrived in Milwaukee in 1844, there was one small church, St. Peter’s. He bought up land near the old church and in 1846 laid the cornerstone for the new cathedral.

  • Basilica and National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians – Holy Hill (Hubertus) - Approximately half a million people from all over the world visit the Basilica and National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill each year. Some make the pilgrimage to Holy Hill to worship, to meditate or to pray for healing. Some come to admire the beautiful architecture of the neo-Romanesque church built in 1926.  Others come as sightseers or hikers. Families frequently come to participate in Sunday liturgy and remain to picnic on the wooded grounds. Many ethnic groups continue a tradition of yearly pilgrimages that can be traced to Holy Hill's earliest beginnings. Holy Hill was declared a Shrine with "Portiuncula privilege" by Pope Leo XIII in 1903. As a result of the increasing number of pilgrims, the Discalced Carmelites of Bavaria were invited to staff the Shrine in 1906. On November 19, 2006, the Shrine was elevated to the status of minor Basilica.

  • Schoenstatt Shrine (Waukesha) - Schoenstatt means beautiful place. It is the name of the place where the Schoenstatt Movement was founded in Germany, on October 18, 1914, in a small chapel which has been replicated around the world since the time of World War II. One of these chapels’ rests on our land.

  • Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (La Crosse) - The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, recalls the appearances of 1531 and proclaims once again the Blessed Mother’s message of God’s mercy and love. Our Lady of Guadalupe continues her vocation and mission of bringing Christ to us and bringing us to Christ.

  • The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help (Champion) - The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion covers the peace-filled holy ground deemed ‘worthy of belief’ by authority of the Catholic Church, that Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared. Identifying herself as ‘The Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners,’ Mary appeared in October 1859 to a Belgian immigrant woman, Adele Brise, on the grounds of Champion Shrine, when the town was known as Robinsonville. The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is the First and Only Church-approved Marian Apparition Site in the United States of America.

  • The Shrine of St. Joseph (De Pere) - In the spirit of a rekindled interest in the figure and role of St. Joseph in the life of the Church, especially among a generation of young men and women who are excited about the rich heritage of Catholic culture and history, the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey returned the crowned statue of St. Joseph to Old St. Joseph Church on the St. Norbert College campus.

  • Carmelite Monastery of the Holy Name of Jesus (Denmark) - A monastery is not like the places we frequent in our daily lives, like the mall, the workplace, or school. It isn’t even like the parish church. Coming here, we have approached a new height as it were, and it requires adjustment. It means quieting down from inside, breathing more slowly, deeply. The pull has excitement too, but it is an anticipation at a wholly uncommon level. At this unique place, we are summoned to a release we don’t even experience in the comfort of our homes.

This summer plan a Pilgrimage!


Resources from: Verso Ministries

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