We at Catholic Book Publishing know that you join with us in the quest to continually enrich our appreciation of our Catholic heritage. We are blessed to live in an age when travel is possible and common—and to live in a country where there is no shortage of worthy pilgrimage destinations! We invite you to join us, from the comfort of behind the screen of your own device, on a blog tour of American destinations of interest to Catholic travelers!
Nestled in the picturesque Mohawk Valley in Montgomery County, New York, is the childhood home of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Born in present-day Auriesville, St. Kateri—patron of the environment and ecology—lived a short but action-packed life. A model of Christian courage, St. Kateri, a smallpox survivor, was inspired by the Christian missionaries in her area, and she made the unpopular decision to be baptized as a Catholic. To protect her life, she fled to a Jesuit mission in Canada, where she lived piously. She died at age 23 or 24.
While she lived through unrest—social and personal—and suffered through ostracism, personal injury and illness, and war, St. Kateri set an example of faith that we all would do well to follow. She teaches us that even in tumultuous times, our Faith can keep us centered. Canonized in 2012, St. Kateri is a model for many Christians, and several shrines have sprung up in her honor.
One such shrine is located in Fonda, New York, close to the place of St. Kateri’s birth. The Saint Kateri National Shrine and Historic Site welcomes visitors with a museum featuring an impressive collection of artifacts from Native American cultures, with a particular focus on Iroquois artifacts. This museum, along with the nearby fully excavated Iroquois village, provides a backdrop for appreciating the experience and faith of St. Kateri. The chapel at the shrine is the site of Masses and prayer services in line with the spirituality of this bold, yet unassuming Saint.
Just down the road from this noteworthy shrine is another shrine—this one dedicated to St. Kateri and other Saints. The Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, New York, offers a wealth of spiritual opportunities throughout its entire campus. The Coliseum Church, the outdoor Stations of the Cross, the museum featuring the story of St. Kateri and the Jesuit missionary martyrs of Auriesville, and a variety of other devotional locations and opportunities are available to Catholics of all ages at this unique shrine. (Also, we’d be remiss in not mentioning the shrine’s gift shop, which offers books from Catholic Book Publishing, as well as a variety of other Catholic books and religious articles.)
If you choose the Mohawk Valley in New York as a travel destination—or even if you’re just passing through—be sure to take some time to learn about the rich Catholic heritage of this area and to pray at these sites that were so meaningful to some of America’s great Saints!