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Holy Sites

Abbey of Gethsemani

Trappist, KY

We believe the Abbey is a perfect place to end this pilgrimage because it is a place of contemplation and prayer and, importantly, the residence of Thomas Merton in his time as a monk. Merton was most recently in the news for the centenary of his birth in 2015 and for his being singled out by Pope Francis as a “great American” and as “above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the church.”

Merton demonstrated his understanding of the necessity of pilgrimage when he wrote, “Man instinctively regards himself as a wanderer and wayfarer, and it is second nature for him to go on pilgrimage in search of a privileged and holy place, a center and source of indefectible life.”


Merton also wrote, “The monk must see Christ in the pilgrim and the stranger who come from the world, especially if they are poor. Such is the spirit and letter of the Rule.” The dedication to hospitality of those following the Rule of St. Benedict must serve as motivation and inspiration for those of us who profess the same faith. This movement invites all people, not just monks, to see Christ in the pilgrim and the stranger.

The link is to an interview done with Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO, who entered Gethsemani at 17 and had Merton as an instructor. He discusses Merton as well as ideas of hospitality and pilgrimage:


Mepkin Abbey

Moncks Corner, SC

Founded in 1949 by Trappist monks from the Abbey of Gethsemani, this abbey is situated in a picturesque corner of South Carolina just outside Charleston. The beautiful botanical garden and extensive Claire Boothe Luce Library are spiritual complements to the profound prayer experience within the Abbey Church. The monks honor the rich tradition of hospitality as laid out in the Rule of St. Benedict, and they encourage any and all pilgrims seeking a place of serenity and peace for prayer to take the journey to their corner of heaven here on earth. 

From the monks' website, here is their mission statement: "We, the monks of Mepkin Abbey, are responding to God’s call to live in solitude and silence in and for the Church according to an ancient form of radical Christian discipleship focused on seeking and finding God in community where we “are of one heart and soul and everything is held in common” (Acts 4: 32-33). We live the Rule of Saint Benedict embodied in the Cistercian tradition, praising God in our prayer, our meditative reading of Scripture, our work, and our hospitality, obeying the call of the Holy Spirit to ceaseless prayer and sharing the sufferings of the present time until the Lord returns (Rm 8:18-23)."

Holy Cross-Immaculata Church
Abbey of Gethsemani

Holy Cross-Immaculata Church

Cincinnati, OH

We at Modern Catholic Pilgrim (MCP) believe that the steps at Holy Cross-Immaculata Church present a tremendous opportunity as a pilgrimage site. The steps have been in use as a mode of prayer and expression of God’s grace for over a century, and we see the effect that grace has had on bringing thousands of people to “pray the steps” each Good Friday. Follow the link to get a sense of what happens at this amazing place of prayer:

MCP will help pilgrims get to this holy site by car currently and hopes to develop pilgrimage routes by foot to the steps and church as well.

Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham

National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham

Williamsburg, VA

The Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham, England was established in 1061 when, according to the text of the Pynson Ballad  (c 1485), Richeldis de Faverches prayed that she might undertake some special work in honor of Our Lady. In answer to her prayer, the Virgin Mary led her in spirit to Nazareth, showed her the house where the Annunciation occurred, and asked her to build a replica in Walsingham to serve as a perpetual memorial of the Annunciation.  She promised that “Whoever seeks my help there will not go away empty-handed.”


The simple wooden house, the Holy House, was built and became the focus of special devotion to Our Lady, one of the great shrines of Medieval Christendom and was visited by pilgrims and royalty. In 1153, the Augustinian Canons founded a priory to care for pilgrims, adding a Priory Church in the fifteenth century. In 1340, the Slipper Chapel was built at Houghton Saint Giles, a mile outside Walsingham. This was the final station chapel on the way to the Holy House. Here pilgrims would remove their shoes to walk the final holy mile to the Shrine barefoot.

The Holy House was destroyed in 1538 when England’s religious houses were dissolved by order of Henry VIII. The statue of Our Lady was taken to London and was burned.  Nothing remains today of the original Shrine.


Revival of the Shrine began in 1896 when the Slipper Chapel was restored by Charlotte Pearson Boyd for Roman Catholic use. In 1922, the Anglican Vicar at Walsingham began the restoration of the Shrine beside the ancient well and remaining arch of the Priory, where archaeologists place the site of the Holy House. Construction was completed in 1938.  In the 1970’s, the Russian Orthodox consecrated the Church of Saint Seraphim in Walsingham.  In the words of Saint John Paul II, “the House at Nazareth is where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, where she awaited the birth of her Son and where He grew to manhood.  The Holy House is the universal home of all the adopted children of God.”

- from the St. Bede Parish Website

Grotto of Our Lady of Lourde

The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

Notre Dame, IN

The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on the campus of the University of Notre Dame serves as a replication of the famous Grotto in Lourdes, France that brings thousands upon thousands yearly to the spot where St. Bernadette, a poor, young woman, received multiple visions of the Blessed Mother. The Grotto at Notre Dame in northwest Indiana is nestled into a hillside below the great Basilica in the heart of the campus.

Candles are constantly lit and the faithful are found in prayer there almost 24/7/365. There has been a tradition of pilgrimage to the site almost since its inception in 1878 under the guidance of Notre Dame's founder, Fr. Edward Sorin. MCP is thrilled to have any and all make the pilgrimage to the site and to stay with a host while there.


St. Anthony Chapel

Pittsburgh, PA

We do not have a structured walking route for this pilgrimage site, a chapel containing over 5,000 relics of various saints, but we do have a wonderful host family in the city for anyone who wishes to make it a pilgrimage by plane, train, or automobile. Check out the chapel website for more information about this holy place:

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