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

Friday, December 1, 2017

Smithsonian Exhibition Religion in Early America -- Washington, D.C.

Destination:  The Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s new exhibition, “Religion in Early America,” celebrates the free exercise of religion and the religious diversity that define American faith life.
Masses are not offered at the museum. Check for more information.
Why to go: The exhibit features artifacts from Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other major world religions. Peter Manseau, the museum’s Lilly Endowment curator of American religious history, is the author of several books and curator of the new exhibit.
“We can’t really think about the role of religion in America today without wondering about how it all began,” Manseau told Catholic News Service.
The exhibit, which will be open until June 3, 2018, displays artifacts and stories of American religious life from the 1630s to the 1840s. Reflecting the many Christian denominations that made up early America, it also features noteworthy items of Jewish, Islamic, Mormon, Native American and other faith traditions.
Some of the exhibit’s biggest draws are the Jefferson Bible, the George Washington Inaugural Bible, Archbishop John Carroll’s chalice and paten and a church bell forged by Paul Revere.
 (CNS photos/Chaz Muth)
The exhibit highlights the influence of the Carroll family on Catholicism in America. Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, became a senator in the newly formed government. His cousin, Archbishop Carroll of Baltimore, became the first bishop in the United States, founded Georgetown University in Washington, and worked to create other schools and religious communities.
Photos: Visitors (above) at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington check out the exhibit "Religion in Early America."
A cross (right) believed to be made from iron taken from the Ark and the Dove, a ship that brought the first English Catholics to Maryland in 1634, is pictured July 26 in an exhibit room at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington. It is part of the "Religion in Early America" exhibit, which will be on display until June 3, 2018.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Check their suggestions for visits with kids at
Info: Address — The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Constitution Avenue, NW, between 12th and 14th Streets, Washington, D.C.
Phone — 202/633-1000
Website — (Find an online tour at the website.)
— Carolyn Mackenzie, CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
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Thursday, November 2, 2017

World’s Largest Rosary Collection -- Stevenson, Wash.

Destination:  The Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum near Stevenson, Wash., in Skamania County houses the world’s largest rosary collection, according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Masses are not offered at the museum, but Our Lady Star of the Sea mission parish at 725 SW Rock Creek Dr. in Steveson offers Mass on Sunday at 9 a.m.
Why to go: Located in southeastern Washington, the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center houses approximately 4,000 rosaries that can easily take hours to examine closely.
The collection was the life’s work of the late Donald A. Brown of North Bonneville, Wash., who was a founder of the Skamania County Historical Society.
Brown explained that his collection began in 1917 when he was living in The Dalles, Ore., but his interest in the rosary as a devotional prayer began years earlier, while he was confined to the Mercy Hospital in North Bend, Ore., recovering from pneumonia. He saw the rosaries being worn on the habits of the Sisters of Mercy who staffed the hospital. Later, Brown embraced the Catholic faith.
The rosaries in the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center are organized according to size. The smallest ones are made from beads the size of a pin head, while the largest rosary on display is over 16 feet long. This rosary’s “beads” were made from Styrofoam balls by children in Malden, Mass., for a school play.
(Grand) Kid friendly: The rosary collection is not the only exhibit in the interpretive center, so kids will have plenty to interest them.
Info: Address: Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum, 990 SW Rock Creek Dr., PO Box 396, Stevenson, WA 98648
(CNS photo/Mitch Finley)
Phone — 800/991-2338
Website —
— Mitch Finley, CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
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Friday, October 6, 2017

El Cristo Rey Chapel -- Grand Canyon, Ariz.

Destination: A short walk away from the south rim of the Grand Canyon sits El Cristo Rey Chapel, a small wooden building that serves as the spiritual home of the Catholic families who work at the national park.
Winter Mass schedule starts on the first Sunday of December through March at El Cristo Rey. Masses are Sundays at 9 a.m. Summer Masses, April to October at El Cristo Rey, are Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and Sundays, 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.
Why to go: El Cristo Rey, a parish of the Phoenix Diocese, has 26 registered families, who are “always outnumbered by the tourists,” says Father Rafael Bercasio, pastor.
(CNS photos)
The chapel is located within the boundaries of Grand Canyon Village, a residential neighborhood of around 1,500 households that includes a school, a grocery store and a post office. Residents are employed as park rangers and naturalists, maintenance workers, and hotel, restaurant and retail staff. Some live there only six months out of the year, although the park is open year-round.
From his base at El Cristo Rey, Father Bercasio also ministers to a mostly Hispanic community founded five years ago about 30 miles outside the entrance to the park.
El Cristo Rey Chapel was officially established in 1960, although priests from the Diocese of Gallup, N.M., began coming to celebrate Mass for El Tovar’s workers around 1919-1920.Father Bercasio celebrates a daily Mass at 8 a.m., and most of the time, he said, he is the only one in attendance. He celebrates two Masses on Sundays, plus a vigil on Saturdays in summer.
“I always commend the tourists for fulfilling their obligation,” he said. “You are in the midst of your gallivanting and still you are here. It is a testimony that your faith does not take a vacation. It’s very inspiring.”
(Grand) Kid friendly: Everyone is welcome to attend Mass at the church.
Info: Address: El Cristo Rey Parish, 44 Albright Ave., PO Box 505,  Grand Canyon, AZ 86023    Phone — 928/351-7282   Website —
— CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
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Thursday, September 14, 2017

St Padre Pio Relics - LaCrosse and Kenosha, Wis.

(Observer photo/ The Saint Pio Foundation)

Destination: Relics of the renowned 20th century mystic and healer, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina  — better known as Padre Pio — will be touring stopping at two Wisconsin locations during a U.S. tour. The visit is sponsored by The Saint Pio Foundation.
They will be at the Cathedral St. Joseph the Workman in the Diocese of La Crosse on Sept. 20 and at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Sept. 21.
Masses are offered at both cathedrals. Check their websites for details.
Why to go: The Saint Pio Foundation, is sponsoring the tour on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of Padre Pio’s birth, and the 15th anniversary of his canonization.
St. Pio was born on May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcina, Italy, and baptized Francesco Forgione. From age 10, he talked of becoming a priest. To help pay for his education, his father, Grazio Forgione, emigrated to the United States in 1899, where he worked for several years.
The future saint entered the Capuchin order at age 15, taking the name Pio. He was ordained a priest in 1910 at the age of 23. During his lifetime, Padre Pio was known as a mystic with miraculous powers of healing and knowledge, who bore the stigmata.
Stigmata is the term the Catholic Church uses to speak about the wounds an individual receives that correspond to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ.  They can appear on the forehead, hands, wrists, and feet.
Pope John Paul II canonized him in 2002.
Hours:  Veneration and services will vary at each cathedral. Check the local website for details.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Visting a saint’s relics can be a solemn occasion. Remind the kids before you go.
Info: General:
Diocese of LaCrosse: Address — The Cathedral St Joseph the Workman, 530 Main St., La Crosse, WI 54601 n   Phone — 608/782-0322 n   Website —
Archdiocese of Milwaukee: Address — Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 812 N. Jackson St., Milwaukee, WI 53202 n   Phone — 414/276-9814 n   Website —

— Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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Thursday, August 3, 2017

St. Patrick’s Cathedral New York City, New York

 (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Destination: St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City may be the most famous Catholic church in the United States. Even Pope Francis spent time there in prayer when he visted the U.S. in 2015.
Masses are offered several times daily. Check the website (below) to make your plans. There is also Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, 1-6 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Why to go: St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City may be the most famous Catholic church in the United States. The cornerstone was laid in 1858 and  the church opened in 1879. New York Archbishop John Hughes planned the cathedral. It was paid for by contributions from thousands of poor immigrants and by 103 prominent citizens who pledged $1,000 each.
Hours: The cathedral is open 6:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. daily except on the night of the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center, when it closes at 7 p.m. The gift shop in the cathedral is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.The Storefront gift shop at 15 East 51st St. is open daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Because the cathedral is open to guests even during Masses and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, youngsters should be quiet while visiting.
Info: Address — St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Avenue between 50th and 51st streets, New York, NY 10022  Phone — 212/753-2261    Website —
— Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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Thursday, July 6, 2017

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun -- Tucson, Ariz.

(CNS photos/Nancy Wiechec)
Destination: Despite the May 29 fire (see the June 9 Nation/World section) that severely damaged the adobe structure and frescoes by artist Ted DeGrazia in the Mission in the Sun, it’s still well worth visiting the late artist’s Gallery in the Sun outside Tucson, Ariz.
Masses are not offered in the nondenominational Mission in the Sun that DeGrazia built in 1952 to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe and Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Kino (see painting, right). There are Mass options in nearby Tucson, though.

LEFT: “Altar Valley Padre Kino Entrada 1687.” It is part of the Padre Kino Collection at the gallery.

Why to go: There are six permanent collections at the gallery, among them DeGrazia and Padre Kino, Retrospective Collection, and DeGrazia Paints the Yaqui Easter.
This year, the rotating collection, “The Way of the Cross”
 remains open until Aug. 30.
The influence of DeGrazia’s Catholic upbringing — he stopped practicing as an adult — are evident in the many Catholic and Christian themes in his work.
George Maki, and his son, Chris, take in Ted
DeGrazia’s Way of the Cross series at the
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. The artist painted
the series in 1964 for the Newman Center
at the University of Arizona.
The mission was the first structure he built on the 10 acres in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. His home and galleries came later. His original “Little Gallery” now hosts exhibits of visiting artists, a tradition begun by his wife, Marion, after his death in 1982.
Hours: The gallery and grounds are open daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Of course.
Info: Address — DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, 6300 N. Swan, Tucson, AZ 85718 n    Phone — 520/299-9191 n   Website —

— Sharon Boehlefeld compiled this story.
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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Vatican Museums -- Rome, Italy

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Destination: If you’re heading to Rome in the next several weeks, a two-part exhibition — one at the Vatican and the other at the Jewish Museum of Rome — explores the significance of the menorah.
Masses are frequent in Rome. Check on the web for a location convenient for you.

Photo: A journalist looks at a replica of the 1st-century Arch of Titus, showing Roman soldiers carrying the menorah, in a exhibition at the Vatican May 15. The replica is the central motif in a two-part exhibition on the menorah at the Vatican and at the Jewish Museum in Rome. 

Why to go:  From a coin minted in the century before Christ’s birth to a 1987 Israeli comic book featuring a superhero with a menorah on his chest, the exhibit, “The Menorah: Worship, History and Myth,” documents the use of the seven-branched candelabra both as a religious item and a symbol of Jewish identity.
Among the pieces displayed at the Jewish Museum stands a towering mosaic inscription describing treasures buried at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome. Dating from the 13th century, while the Crusades were raging, the mosaic’s 37-line inventory includes “the golden candelabrum” Titus brought to Rome.
The exhibit prominently features a replica of the 1st-century Arch of Titus, showing Roman soldiers carrying the menorah and other treasures into Rome. They also give a nod to the centuries-old legend that the Vatican is hiding the golden menorah from the Temple of Jerusalem.
Francesco Leone, the art historian who prepared the exhibit catalogue, told Catholic News Service the most historically reliable explanation of the Temple menorah’s fate is that it was taken as booty from Rome by the Vandals or Goths before the end of the fifth century and melted down.
Admission: The exhibit is scheduled to be open through July 23. One ticket — 25 euros — includes admission to the main part of the exhibit in the Charlemagne Wing just off St. Peter’s Square and to the Jewish Museum, located about a mile away at Rome’s main synagogue.
Hours vary at each museum and the Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays while the Jewish Museum is closed Saturdays.  Check details for both venues at the Vatican Museums website (below).
(Grand) Kid friendly: Of course.
Info: Address — Vatican Museums, Viale Vaticano, 00165 Rome
Phone — +39 06 69884676 or +39 06 69883145
Website —
— CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
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