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New book is Catholic traveler’s dream to exploring America
Like most of you, I’d wager, it’s been a while since my family has done some traveling. But we love to do it, and Catholic destinations always make our list, no matter where we’re going to catch up on some rest and relaxation. Combining vacation and pilgrimage is one of our favorite things to do, and my husband and I even managed to pull it off on our honeymoon, where we sought the intercession of St. Thérèse, St. Louis, St. Zèlie and the rest of the Martin family at Lisieux and Alencon in France before heading south to the beach.
While COVID-19 has, for the most part, halted our travels and sightseeing, it hasn’t stopped us from planning. “When the pandemic is over …” has become a common phrase around our house, especially when we talk to our children. Like everyone else, we are ready to break free!
For this reason, I am absolutely loving Marion Amberg’s brand new (and gorgeous) book “Monuments, Marvels, and Miracles: A Traveler’s Guide to Catholic America” (OSV, $27.95). Broken up into seven geographic areas, the book highlights more than 500 Catholic sites across the United States. Amberg describes each monument, marvel or miracle, gives a little history and includes a website and other contact information so you can plan your visit. The book is also conveniently divided by state, so you can easily find what you’re looking for. And each state — to the delight of my son — is accompanied by a huge map with markers denoting the geographic locations of the specific sites.
Amberg’s book includes places I’ve been, such as Our Lady of La Leche National Shrine at the Mission Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine, Florida, where Amberg notes that “many couples attest that, after praying here, they miraculously conceive and a baby is born nine months later”; the Basilica of St. Mary in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, the first Catholic parish in the commonwealth; and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin, where Our Lady appeared three times to 28-year-old Belgian immigrant Adele Brise.
It includes places I’ve always wanted to go, such as Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, home of Trappist monks and plenty of history; Mount Angel Abbey in Saint Benedict, Oregon, founded by Swiss Benedictine monks in 1882; the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and its miraculous staircase; and the Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colorado, home to a miraculous spring of water.
And it includes places I’d never even heard of but have now made my list, such as St. Margaret Shrine in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a “rocky parcel of land” that was turned into a “meandering pilgrimage of chapels and wayside shrines;” the Shrine of St. Patrick in Saint Patrick, Missouri, reportedly, according to Amberg, the only town in the world named for the saint; and the Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral in Toledo, Ohio, with 50 “exterior bas-relief panels” that “illustrate the history of the Catholic Church.”
I’m also intrigued by the Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa, that “proclaims in stone the glorious Redemption story,” and St. Ann’s Monastery and Shrine Basilica in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where the “earth might move under your feet.” And I could go on and on.
At just about 500 pages, the book is hefty — and full of potential, especially if you’re considering a road trip this summer. And it’s a Catholic traveler’s dream. If you’re planning your next trip, or dreaming about planning your next trip, you’ll want to be sure to pick up this volume and have it by your side. There’s bound to be a Catholic site to explore nearby. Happy pilgrimaging!
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.