Spend a faith-filled vacation visiting local shrines
Summer vacation is the perfect time to load up the car and the kids and take to the open road. Instead of fighting traffic trying to find a spot at the beach or heading off to crowded and costly theme parks, take a peaceful ride through Upstate New York and visit one of the many beautiful shrines. Here are just a few to explore. For a more extensive listing of shrines, visit catholicplaces.org/shrineNY.htm. Share your favorite shrine at
Our Lady of Victory Basilica & National Shrine
767 Ridge Road
Lackawanna, N.Y. 14218
In 1921, Father Nelson Baker was a local priest responsible for the establishment and coordination of a ministry known as Our Lady of Victory Institutions. The ministry included an industrial school, a home for unwed mothers and a hospital. After rebuilding his own parish, St. Patrick’s, after a devastating fire, Father Baker felt the strong desire to create a shrine of thanksgiving to his patroness, the Blessed Virgin, to thank her for blessing his ministry. Father Baker wanted the shrine to “rival any within the U.S.,” although he had no budget to create such a structure. With tremendous faith, Father Baker put out a call to use only the finest materials and the greatest craftsmen on the project and the result was a breathtaking structure, Our Lady of Victory Church, which was completed in late 1925, funded soley by donations. The church was officially designated a Minor Basilica by apostolic decree by Pope Pius XI on July 20, 1926.
Father Baker continued overseeing Our Lady of Victory Institutions until his death in 1936. In 1987, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the initiation of Father Baker for Canonization. His remains were moved to a tomb within the Basilica in March 1999 and in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI declared Father Baker Venerable.
Within the stunning structure of the basilica are hundreds of paintings, mosaics, over 2500 angels and two items of papal significance; a canopeum, a symbolic shield of protection for the pope that is used whenever he travels and remains in the open position in anticipation of his visit; and a tintinnabulum, a small gold bell surrounded by a gold frame and topped with the papal tiara and keys that is used to lead a papal procession down the center aisle of the basilica. There is also a museum on the property dedicated to Father Baker and a gift shop.
Shrine hours: Our Lady of Victory Basilica is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Open tours are available to the public Sun. at 1p.m. and 2 p.m. Personal tours can be scheduled throughout the week between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. by contacting Program Director, Denise Wood at (716) 828-7517.
Masses: Weekdays 7:30 a.m., 12:10 p.m.; Sun. 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 4:30 p.m. (Vigil Mass).
Confession: First Fri. 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Sat. 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Rosary: Mon-Fri following 12:10 p.m. Mass; Tues., 7 p.m.
Directions: Interstate 90W to US 219 S. Follow signs for Orchard Park, Springville. Exit onto Ridge Road toward West Lackawanna.
National Shrine of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and Friary
P.O. Box 627
West Main Street
Fonda, N.Y. 12068
Located in quiet farm country in the Village of Fonda, this self-directed shrine offers a chapel that dates back 250 years, natural trails to explore, a gift shop and a museum filled with genuine articles of Native Americans, especially those used by the Iroquois.
Visitors to the shrine can view the only completely excavated Iroquois Village in the country, discovered in 1950 by Father Thomas Grassman, a Conventual Franciscan Friar. This village was where 17-century Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint, lived as a child after the death of her parents until she fled the village to live among a settlement of Christian Native Americans at the Mission of St. Francis Xavier in Canada when she was a young woman.
Shrine hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon-Sun until October 26.
Masses: Tues./Thurs. at 8:30 a.m., Sunday 10:30 a.m. and Sunday Vigil Mass at 4:30 p.m.
Directions: Interstate 90 to Exit 28 (Fonda-Fultonville). Follow signs to Route 5 west. The shrine is 1/4 mile west of the Village of Fonda.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs/National Shrine of the North American Martyrs
136 Shrine Road
Auriesville, N.Y. 12016
Hours: Sunday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Located 40 miles west of Albany in the Mohawk Valley this shrine is a great day trip for church groups, families or individuals. Known as the birthplace of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the site was once a 17th century Mohawk village called Osserneon. In 1640, three American missionaries, Father Isaac Jogues, Rene Goupil and John Lalande, were martyred here and later canonized in 1930. Together with five Jesuit priests who were killed while on mission in Canada, they are known as the North American Martyrs.
The shrine is open 25 weeks a year and hosts five chapels, two museums, a candle shrine, a Jesuit cemetery, outdoor Stations of the Cross, a gift shop and a visitor center where snacks and drinks may be purchased. Picnics are permitted, but no alcoholic beverages or pets are allowed on the property that spans approximately 400 acres.
Confession: Held 30 minutes before Sunday Mass and 15 minutes before weekday Mass or on Saturdays at 3:30 p.m.
Masses: held in the St. Kateri Chapel weekdays and Sat. at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Sun. Masses are held at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. A special St. Kateri Mass is held Wed. at 4 p.m. There is a blessing with Relics Fri. after all Masses.
Directions: Interstate 90 to exit 27 (Amsterdam). Take Route 30 North a very short distance and continue west along Route 5S six miles to Noeltner Road.
The Saint Marianne Cope Shrine and Musuem
601 N. Townsend St.
Syracuse, N.Y. 13203
Hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursdays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Sundays and Mondays.
Barbara Koob, a German immigrant, grew up in Utica before joining the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse in 1862 and taking the name Marianne. She ministered in teaching and healthcare throughout Central New York before moving to Hawaii in 1883 to care for patients with Hansen’s disease (leprosy). She died on the island of Molokai in 1918; she was canonized in 2012. Housed on the campus of St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, the hospital St. Marianne Cope helped to found in 1869, this museum shares the life and legacy of the local saint. A first-class relic of the saint is enshrined in a reliquary in the museum’s second gallery space. Archives, a research library and a gift shop are also on site.