While shrines can be a burial place of a saint or Marian apparition, more commonly they are erected as a center for specific devotion. You can find a full listing of the top 48 shrines within the United States here, but we've selected the 10 most prominent shrines here:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many dream of a visit to Lourdes, France, but it is not always possible. In 1956, the Grotto in Litchfield, Connecticut was begun in 1956 and completed in 1958. It was built from local field stone and closely resembles the one in Lourdes, France. In addition to the Grotto, there are Stations of the Cross with life-size bronze figures set in a winding trail.
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. The mission houses 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.
This first church in Atlanta was originally built in 1848. Fr. Thomas O’Reilly, 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.
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.
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.