Open Wide the Doors
Jubilee inspires pilgrimages
Whether its Rome, Holy Land or in the diocese, pilgrims can find graces
By John Woods
Many Catholics are setting aside time this year to make
pilgrimages to world's most popular religious sites and
The Green Bay Diocese, for example, sponsored a special
Jubilee Year pilgrimage to Rome in June led by Bp. Robert
Banks. Nearly 200 pilgrims from the diocese took part.
In addition, Bp. Banks earlier this year designated 10
pilgrimage churches in the diocese and encouraged Catholics
to visit them.
While at any pilgrimage site, the pilgrim may gain a plenary
indulgence by reciting the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles or
Nicene Creed and a prayer for the Holy Father.
People may undertake a pilgrimage for many reasons: in
thanksgiving, to seek forgiveness, in petition, but
especially to renew their relationship with God.
What religious sites do Catholic travelers favor?
The Holy Land and Rome top the list for American Catholics.
A typical 13-day Holy Land pilgrimage includes stops in Tel
Aviv; Cana, the site of Jesus's first miracle; Tabgha, where
he multiplied the loaves and fishes; and the Tomb of Our
Lady; and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Trips usually
include visits to Rome and Assisi in Italy.
Catholics pick Rome, travel agents say, because it is the
center of the church and because there are more than 600
churches to see. "You could spend a lifetime in Rome and not
see everything," one agent said.
Rome pilgrimages include a papal audience at the Vatican;
Mass at St. Peter's Basilica and a visit to the Vatican
Museum and the Sistine Chapel.
Almost all who visit Rome make the 2½ hour trip to Assisi,
home of St. Francis and St. Clare. Another popular site in
Italy is Monte Cassino, south of Rome, a mountaintop abbey
that was home to St. Benedict of Nirsia, founder of the
monastic way of life.
With some 3,200 religious shrines, Western Europe attracts
many Catholic pilgrims from the U.S., which has just 250.
France offers a lot of church history. Paris has the Eiffel
Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral and the
shrine where Our Blessed Mother appeared to St. Catherine
Laboure to promote devotion to the Miraculous Medal.
More than 5 million pilgrims each year visit Lourdes, where
the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Bernadette, and the
shrine's healing waters attract the infirm from the world
The largest Marian shrine in the world, Fatima in Portugal,
remains popular with Americans. The grounds surrounding the
church can hold more than one million visitors.
In Poland, the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, with its
famed image of the Black Madonna, is a place of journey for
hundreds of thousands of Poles and non-Poles. Another
popular Eastern European venue is Medjugorje, in the former
Yugoslavia, although the alleged Marian apparitions there
have not been officially approved by the Vatican.
Then there's the most visited Marian shrine in the world,
Our Lady of Guadalupe, 30 minutes from downtown Mexico City.
In the U.S., the 21 Franciscan missions in California - from
San Diego to San Francisco - are popular. Also popular are
the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate
Conception in Washington, D.C., and the Mother Seton Shrine
in Emmitsburg, Md., dedicated to the first American-born
The ten designated pilgrimage churches in the Green Bay
-- St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay;
-- Chapel of Our Lady of Good Help, Robinsonville;
-- St. Mary of the Lake, Lakewood;
-- Sacred Heart, Shawano;
-- Holy Trinity (St. Joseph site), Oconto;
-- St. Mary Magdalene, Waupaca;
-- St. Joseph, Sturgeon Bay;
-- St. Mary of the Seven Dolors, Appleton;
-- St. Mary, Oshkosh;
-- St. Boniface, Manitowoc.