The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” -- St. Augustine

Monday, September 10, 2018

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe - Mexico City, Mexico

(CNS photos)
Destination: We usually think of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December near her feast day. But any time is a good time to make a pilgrimage to the basilica dedicated to her in Mexico City.
Masses in the new Basilica are offered at the main altar every hour on the hour, 6 a.m.-8 p.m., every day of the year. There are also eight Masses in the San Jose Chapel on weekdays (five on Saturdays and Sundays) and in the crypt.
Why to go: The circular basilica houses the original image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. It was bult on the site of a 16th-century church that was finished in 1709.
Built between 1974 and 1976, the new basilica’s circular floorplan makes it possible for the image of the Virgin to be seen from anywhere within the building. It can accomodate up to 50,000 people.
There are nine chapels on the upper floor and crypts, with 15,000 niches and 10 chapels on the lower level.
On the grounds where the new Basilica is located there are also many other buildings, including the original chapel on the exact site of the apparitions to St. Juan Diego, the Church on the Hill (Capilla del Cerrito), and the Old Basilica consecrated in 1709, as well as other chapels.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Of course.

Photos: Top -- Travelers approach the modern Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe  on a pilgrimage in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12, 2017, in Mexico City. (CNS/Carlos Jasso, Reuters) 
Middle left -- The Church of Christ the King (Templo Expiatorio de Cristo Rey), also called the Old Basilica  of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Antigua Basílica de Guadalupe) is lit for evening prayer. it stands near the modern basilica on Marian Square in Mexico City. (CNS photo/David Maung)
Middle right -- The original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is housed in the modern basilica. (CNS photo/David Maung)

Info: Address — Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Plaza de las Américas 1, Villa de Guadalupe, Villa Gustavo A. Madero, 07050 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Phone —  01(55)5118-0500.
Website, English (unofficial, but helpful) —
Website, Spanish (official) —

— Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Mission San Juan Capistrano -- San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Destination: The mission, founded in 1776 by St. Junipero Serra, is an historic chapel and landmark, as well as home to a museum and a Catholic parish. The Spanish-born saint founded seven missions, including San Juan Capistrano, in California between 1769 and 1782.
(CNS photo)
Masses are offered at the basilica, San Juan Capistrano Parish’s main house of worship in English (unless noted) on Saturdays at 7 a.m., 4:30 and 6 p.m. (Español); Sundays, 6:30 a.m. (first Sunday/Latin Missal 1962/Serra Chapel), 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m. (Latin Missal 1962/Serra Chapel), 9 a.m. (family liturgy), 11 a.m., 1 p.m. (Español) and 5 p.m.; Mondays through Fridays, 7 a.m. (Serra Chapel) and 8:30 a.m.; Wednesdays, 7 p.m. (Español). (See also
Photos -- TOP: Visitors tour the ruins of the Great Stone Church in late July at Mission San Juan Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Constructed between 1797 and 1806, the church was destroyed in an 1812 earthquake. Forty Indian neophytes attending Mass were killed in the collapse. The new parish church of Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano, completed in 1986, was designed after the Great Stone Church.
BOTTOM: A statue of St. Teresa of Avila, Spanish mystic and doctor of the Church, stands in the sanctuary of the Serra Chapel at Mission San Juan Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.  (CNS file photos/Nancy Wiechec)
(CNS photo)
Why to go: The Serra Chapel dates back to the 1780s and the Eucharist is still celebrated there. It is California’s only chapel still standing where St. Junipero Serra celebrated Mass.
In the Jubilee Year of 2000, Pope John Paul II proclaimed the Mission Church of San Juan Capistrano a basilica. The USCCB designated Mission San Juan Capistrano a national shrine on March 19, 2003.
Admission: Tickets to the historic site are $10 for adults; $9 for senior citizens and $7 for children 4-11.
Hours: The mission is open daily, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. It is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas days (although Masses are offered). It is also closed at noon on Good Friday, Christmas Eve, and for the annual Romance of the Mission fundraiser (Sept. 14 this year).
Handicapped accessibility: Expect some uneven terrain and steps.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Summer crafts for kids starting at 11 a.m. daily continue through Aug. 17. Prices vary. The Mission Clubhouse, a kids’ play place, is open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Info: Address — Historic Mission San Juan Capistrano, 26801 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675 n  Phone — 949/234-1300 n  Website —
—  Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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Thursday, July 5, 2018

St. Francis Xavier Cathedral - Green Bay, Wis.

(Observer photo/Penny Wiegert)
Destination: Given that we live in a diocese where people quip that “mixed marriages” involve Bears and Packers fans, anyone from here might make a trip to Green Bay or Door County in Wisconsin. In addition to planning a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wis., plan a stop at the cathedral in this very Catholic city, too.
Mass times are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 8:30 a.m.; Saturdays, 4 p.m.; Sundays, 9 a.m.
(Observer photo/Sam Lucero, The Compass)
Photos: (Left) Behind the main altar at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay is   a 40 by 25 foot mural entitled “The Crucifixion,” one of several paintings restored during recent renovations.
(Right) St. Francis Xavier Cathedral is a short walk from several downtown hotels.
Why to go: Consecrated in 1881, but founded as a parish in 1851, the most recent renovations at Green Bay’s cathedral were made in honor of the diocese’s 150th anniversary. In addition to beautifully restored paintings, updates included the altar of white Carrara marble with relics of SS. Boniface, Timothy, Tiburtius and Francis Xavier in the altar stone. The figures of the four evangelists painted on the ceiling of the sanctuary were among paintings restored. An altar dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help on the left side of the sanctuary is the only original altar from 1881. Known as the Peace altar since World War I, it honors the men and women of the parish who served in the armed forces. The Bishop Wycislo Center (the building connected to the cathedral on the north side) houses the diocese’s museum.
Handicapped accessibility: This cathedral is loaded with steps, but there is an elevator entrance from the Bishop Wycislo Center.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Of course kids are welcome in this active parish.
Info: Address — 139 S. Madison, Green Bay, WI 54301
 Phone — 920/432-4348 
Website —
—  Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi - Santa Fe, N.M.

(Observer photos/
Destination: Founded as a parish in 1610, the same year the city of Santa Fe was founded, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi  sits on the site of the original 17th century parish. The current church was established as a cathedral in1853 and elevated to basilica  in 2005.
Mass times are Sunday, 8 a.m. (Spanish), 10 a.m. and 12 noon; Monday- Saturday, 7 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.
Why to go: One reason to plan a stop is to see the oldest statue of the Virgin Mary in the U.S., brought from Spain in 1685. Today the image rests in an adobe chapel dedicated to Our Lady La Conquistadora. The chapel is all that remains of a 1714 church, bullt after the Pueblo Indian Revolt of 1680.
The Franciscans who established the parish arrived in the area that would become Santa Fe in 1598. They accompanied Spanish settlers who had come north from Mexico City.
When Bishop John B. Lamy deemed the adobe church inadequate to growing needs, he brought French architects and Italian stonemasons to Santa Fe to build a Romanesque church in 1887.
The new cathedral was built around the adobe church. When the new walls were complete, the old church was torn down and removed through the front door.
The stained glass windows in the lower bay are from France and depict the Twelve Apostles.
Dedicated in 1887, the Cathedral’s spires were never completed due to lack of funds.
(Grand) Kid friendly: The cathedral welcomes children. If you want to prepare them for the visit, check the virtual tour at
Info: Address — Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, 131 Cathedral Place, Santa Fe, NM, 87501
Phone — 505/982-5619 
Website —
—  Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart -- Charleston, W.V.

Destination: With a parish history dating back to the late 1700’s, the Basilica Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart began as a parish serving 63 families in 1866. Mass was celebrated at various locations for several years until the first church was built in 1869. On Christmas in 1897, the first Mass was offered in the present church.
Mass times are Sunday: 8 a.m., 10 a.m. (Solemn Mass), 12 noon, 5 p.m.; Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 8 a.m.; Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 12 noon; Wednesday: 5:30 p.m.; Saturday 5:30 p.m.
Photos: The Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (above) and a detail of its Annunciation statue (below) ((Observer photos/ 
Why to go: On June 20, 2010, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston celebrated a Mass for the investiture of Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral Church as a Minor Basilica. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the parish’s founding, the diocese began extensive renovations of the basilica.
Among improvements were a new altar and ambo, as well as new flooring, new steps to the high altar and other interior upgrades.
The basilica is also a pilgrimage site for the diocesan Shrine of the Santo Niño, and the Annunciation and Tree of Life gardens.
In 2007 Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral commissioned artist John Collier to design and create bronze statues of the Annunciation and the Tree of Life with the Crucified Christ. In 2008 the  statues were installed in the gardens in front of the church.
(Grand) Kid friendly: The basilica is an active parish with a school, so kids are always welcome.
Info: Address — Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 1114 Virginia St. East, Charleston, WV 25301
 Phone — 304/342-8175
Website —
—  Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Basilica of St. Josaphat -- Milwaukee, Wis.

(Observer photos/
Destination: If you head to Milwaukee for any reason, you might want to schedule a stop at the Basilica of St. Josaphat, named the third basilica in the United States.
Mass times are Sundays, 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon; Saturdays, 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.; Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.; Wednesday, noon.
Why to go: St. Josaphat Parish began in 1888 as an offshoot of Saint Stanislaus Parish and became the largest Polish parish in Wisconsin.  The Poles were Milwaukee’s second largest immigrant group after Germans, only some of whom were Catholic. The first St. Josaphat Church burned to the ground in 1889 and the second soon proved too small. The community broke ground for a new church in 1896 and finished  it in 1901.
The architect designed a church that was meant to be a smaller version of St. Peter’s in Rome, with a cross-shaped floor plan and huge central dome.
The plans were nearly complete when Father Wilhelm Grutza, the pastor, learned the Chicago Post Office and Custom House needed to be torn down. He bought it for $20,000. The Chicago building was dismantled and the salvaged material brought to Milwaukee in 500 railroad flatcars.
When it was finished, the basilical had a dome that in the U.S. was second in size only to the capital in Washington, D.C.
Despite using salvaged materials, cost overruns left the parish in debt. In 1910, at the request of the archdiocese, the Conventual Franciscan Friars took over administration of the parish, and the debt was retired in 1925.
Amenities: The basilica and visitor center are open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., for visits and tours. There is also a tour every Sunday following the 10 a.m. Mass.
(Grand) Kid friendly: The basilica welcomes families.
Info: Address — The Basilica of St. Josaphat, 2333 S. Sixth St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53215
Phone — 414/645-5623 \
Website —
—  Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception - Mobile, Ala.

Destination: If your snowbird or summer travels include a car trip to the southeast, plan a route through Mobile, Ala., to see its Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It was designated a basilica in 1962.
Masses are offered several times every day at the basilica. Check the website (below) for details.
Why to go: Pre-dating the Civil War, the cornerstone was laid in 1835 and the completed cathedral was dedicated in 1850. Its website says, “An heroic challenge was set by Bishop (Michael) Portier in laying foundations for a church 162 feet in length and 90 feet in width.” Over the years, Alabama Catholics tried to keep the promise of its original plan, “sometimes following the original plan, but also in response to circumstances such as the fire of 1954 that could have destroyed the whole structure.” There are strong midwestern ties to the cathedral basilica, too.
In 2001, exterior maintenance included repairs and facade cleaning. In 2003, interior restoration “included artistic enhancements by the Conrad Schmitt Company of New Berlin, Wis.” Among them were gold-leaf on the columns, repainting of the vaulted ceiling, which includes the fleur de lis and the shamrock, representing the French and Irish heritage of the Catholic population of Mobile, and new Carrara marble on the floor of the main aisle and the two side aisles.
Its original organ, completed in 1858, was destroyed in the 1954 fire. In 1957, a new organ, custom-built by Wicks Organ Company of Highland (Ill.) was installed. In 2000, the Wicks Company restored the organ console with new keyboards, pedalboard, key and pedal contacts, and drawknobs.
(Photo courtesy The Catholic Week of the Archdiocese of Mobile)
(Grand) Kid friendly: The basilica welcomes families
Info: Address — Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (office), 2 South Claiborne St., Mobile, AL 36602
Phone — 251/434-1565
Website —
—  Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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