Planning Your Catholic Chicago Pilgrimage

Chicago is one of the largest cities in the United States and a destination for many during summer road trips.  There are many secular attractions to enjoy like the Sears (Willis) Tower, the Bean at Millennium Park, Navy Pier, shows at one of the many downtown theatres, and the list goes on.  For a Catholic visiting the town, there are many places for prayer and pilgrimage surrounding the saints and beautiful churches to see.  Here’s a guide to Catholic Chicago. 

The Basilica of Seven Sorrows and National Shrine of St. Peregrine

The Servite Order lives and serves in a now impoverished area of Chicago.  Located at 3121 W Jackson Blvd, the Basilica stands as a beautiful edifice in the area, inviting people to come and pray.  The Basilica was quite significant during the late 1930s, 40s and even 50s.  During the Great Depression, on January 8th 1937, a weekly novena and prayer service invoking the intercession began at the Church of the Seven Sorrows.  Tens of thousands of people joined in prayer each week, necessitating there to be nearly 40 prayer services.  The Church in Rome became aware of the widespread devotion taking place at the Servite Parish and how the devotion even spread to other parishes.  In 1956, Pope Pius XII elevated the church to a minor basilica, declaring: “from this Shrine devotion to Our Sorrowful Mother spread everywhere like an inundating river.”  Besides promoting devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows, the Basilica has a side altar to St. Peregrine, a Servite priest and patron of cancer patients.  A visit to the basilica will allow you to remember your family and friends battling cancer at this special altar.

The National Shrine of Mother Cabrini

This is one my most favorite shrines in the United States dedicated to a saint.  Every time I stop for a visit, I simply marvel at the beauty and spend time in prayer.  St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, an Italian nun, wanted to serve the Church in the mission field of China.  When she asked the Holy Father for permission, he told her that it was not to the East that she was to go, but to the West.  Mother Cabrini and several other sisters of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart arrived in New York and began their life and ministry in the United States.  Mother Cabrini made her way to Chicago by the end of her life and established a hospital along the lake.  Mother Cabrini died in Chicago, hence the reason for a shrine to her in the city.  Parking is hard to find by the National Shrine, but a prayer to St. Anthony should help you find a space.  When approaching the National Shrine of Mother Cabrini, you might be puzzled because from the outside, the entrance looks like a hotel lobby.  Once you enter, you’ll find the marvelous chapel, where you can venerate a relic of Mother Cabrini’s arm bone which is underneath the altar.  Some of the stained glass also share the story of Mother Cabrini’s miracles like the healing of baby Peter Smith who was blinded at birth by an overdose of silver nitrate in the eyes but by Mother Cabrini’s prayers his eyesight was restored.  The Mother Cabrini Shrine also has a small museum, allowing you to learn more about her life story.  The shrine is located at: 2520 N Lakeview Ave, Chicago, IL.

Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine

If you are an Italian, you will want to pray at the Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine located at 1224 West Lexington Street, Chicago, IL.  Devotion to Our Lady of Pompeii centers around the rosary.  The original shrine in Italy was built by Blessed Bartolo Longo, a once Satanic priest, turned Catholic, who wanted to atone for his past sins and promote devotion to Our Lady.  The shrine in Chicago is a nice little place to stop and pray the rosary.  The Chicago shrine has affiliation with the shrine in Italy. 

The National Shrine of St. Jude

The National Shrine of St. Jude run by the Claretian Missionaries is located at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3200 E 91st St, Chicago, IL.  The Shrine began when the pastor, Fr. James Tort, promoted devotion to his favorite saint among his parishioners.  He started devotions to St. Jude in the parish, including novenas back in 1929.  Thousands of people would join him for these novenas.  Soon a statue of St. Jude was acquired and devotion to him was established in the parish and it would later be declared a shrine to the saint of hopeless causes.  Three stained glass windows of St. Jude adorn one side of the church, and two relics of St. Jude are located at his altar.  A candle room is adjacent to the altar.  Many people receive mailings from the National Shrine of St. Jude, asking for prayer petitions and financial donations.  As the shrine altar to St. Jude says, “With Confidence, We Invoke Thee.”  During your visit, indeed you can. 

The Other Shrine of St. Jude

Chicago is home to two shrines of St. Jude.  The Claretian shrine is more notable due to their recognition.  The Dominicans run another shrine to St. Jude with a side altar for devotion.  The Dominican Shrine is located at St. Pius V Parish, 1901 S. Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL.  This shrine has a similar history to the National Shrine of St. Jude because it also began in 1929 because of the devotion of Fr. William Marchant, OP.  During these difficult times in history, people turned to the intercession of the saints when in need.  The Dominican Shrine of St. Jude offers through their website St. Jude Oil that can be used as a sacramental, the opportunity to enroll people in Gregorian Masses, and to request a candle to be lit for your intentions

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Devotion to the 1531 apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego is widespread.  A major shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe is in Des Plaines at 1170 N River Rd.  The story of the shrine began back in 1987, when a gentlemen acquired a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe from Mexico City and began bringing it to people’s homes or parishes.  An outdoor shrine was eventually built in 1995.  The property has continued to develop, pilgrims have continued to visit, and this shrine shares a special relationship with the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, City.  On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in the cold and bitter Chicago winter, hundreds of thousands of people will pass through the Shrine and pay homage to their mother. 

Beautiful Churches in Chicago

There are so many beautiful churches one could name that you could visit while in Chicago.  St. John Cantius celebrates a beautiful and reverent liturgy.  St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish is known as the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy and has perpetual adoration.  St. Mary of the Angels is also worth a visit.  Chicago is an Archdiocese and a visit to Holy Name Cathedral might also be fitting. 

Other Shrines in the Chicagoland Area

If you love the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux, a visit to Darrien, Illinois might be in store for you.  The National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe, located in Libertyville, Illinois, and also known as Marytown, offers perpetual adoration, and a devotional area to St. Maximilian Kolbe, and a small museum telling the story of his life and ultimate death in a Nazi concentration camp.  Marytown also has a great gift store for your Catholic shopping needs. 

This list is meant to help you begin your Catholic pilgrimage to Chicago.  I’m willing to bet there might be more places people would suggest.  Leave them in the comments.

The next time you find yourself in the Windy City, I hope you might transform your business trip or vacation into a mini pilgrimage. 

Image: Shutterstock/Carlos Yudica

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Fr. Edward Looney is a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay, a Marian theologian, author, columnist, media personality, podcaster, film enthusiast, and fellow pilgrim. He is the host of the podcast, Hey Everybody! It’s Fr. Edward. You can follow him on social media at the handle @FrEdwardLooney.

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