Latin America

Marian shrines in the United States. Mosaic of invocations

Nearly two hundred shrines dedicated to the Virgin Mary dot U.S. soil. The oldest, Our Lady of La Leche. In Washington, the Immaculate Conception.

Juan Velez-December 2, 2017-Reading time: 3 minutes
Priests at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Washington, D.C.)


In addition to television and radio, and acts of Marian worship in parishes, Marian shrines in the United States, as in other parts of the world, offer spaces for special prayer and encounter with God. There are currently about two hundred Marian shrines in the United States. They vary in age, size and attendance. Probably the oldest is Our Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine, Florida. At Mission Nombre de Dios in the city of St. Augustine, founded in 1565, devotion to Our Lady under the title of La Leche emerged in the early 16th century.

In the capital of the country is located the beautiful and large sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, whose construction was completed in 1959. The temple contains more than seventy chapels, each one with a mosaic of a different invocation of the Virgin Mary. In the apse presides a large mosaic of Jesus as Lord (pantocrator). Throughout the year there are many pilgrimages to this sanctuary.

The shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Chicago dates back to 1986 when the faithful sought a place to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe in a particular way. In 2013, Cardinal Francis George approved the current facility as a Marian shrine. Each year about one million people come to the shrine to pray to the Mother of God. There are many Masses and many faithful go to confession. During the octave of the Assumption there is a festival called Guadeloupe in SummerThe festival is attended by a large number of people. As expected, the big event of the year is the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12.


The Virgin's love shown to the indigenous people of Mexico and to all the Mexican people has left an indelible mark. The story of the apparitions to Juan Diego and the miraculous image that remained in his tilma continue to captivate the imagination of the people. The story of the apparition includes the words of the Virgin: "Am I not here, who am your Mother?". It is a message of maternal help that reaches all men, and in different locations in the United States there are shrines and parishes with this invocation. Among them is the shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Another shrine under the same title has been opened in Denver.


The Mother of God has appeared in many parts of the world. And those titles are also honored at various shrines in the United States. One of them is Our Lady of Snow, located in Belleview, Illinois. About one million people make pilgrimages to this shrine every year.  

On the outskirts of Philadelphia, Our Lady of Czestochowa is venerated in a shrine of that name. It is another important place of pilgrimage that indicates how love for the Mother of God is born in all the North American people. Although the descendants of Mexico and Latin America maintain in general a greater devotion to Mary, the Poles keep alive in a special way their Marian character. On the other hand, in Yugoslavia there is a place of pilgrimage, Medjugorje. In this country there are groups of pilgrims who go there, many go to confession and report spiritual conversions. It attracts attention.


The Second Vatican Council and the pontiffs of the second half of the twentieth century onward have called us to a renewed encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. As the saints, including Blessed John Henry Newman, have explained, Marian dogmas originate in the Person of Christ and reinforce our faith in the Son of God. The Immaculate Conception, for example, highlights the divinity of Christ and the holiness of God. In Marian shrines it seems easier to be converted and to have recourse to the sacrament of Reconciliation. As St. Louis Grigñon de Monfort and centuries later St. Josemaría Escrivá pointed out, our Lady always leads us to Jesus. Her advice was: "One always goes to Jesus and "returns" through Mary." (Camino, 495).

The authorJuan Velez

Chicago (United States)

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