The United States is blessed with many extraordinary Eucharistic shrines that can be fitting places of pilgrimage during the three-year national Eucharistic Revival just begun.
I’ve had the privilege to visit some of them, like the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, St. Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine in Boston, the Church of St. Jean Baptiste in New York City, and the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe at Marytown north of Chicago, to name a few of the most renowned.
There are also exquisite perpetual adoration chapels where the Eucharistic Lord seeks to draw all people to himself, like Our Lady of Corpus Christi Perpetual Adoration Chapel in Corpus Christi, Texas, Queen of the Angels Holy Adoration Chapel in Basehor, Kansas, and Our Lady of Life Adoration Chapel in West Harwich, Massachusetts. These are some of the more than 800 locations of perpetual adoration available to Catholics in the United States.
Every active tabernacle, however, in each of the more than 16,679 Catholic parishes in the United States ought to be a place of regular pilgrimage during the revival. Jesus Christ really, truly and substantially awaits us there, wanting us to bring him our prayers and grow in his holy likeness.
Out of all the important domestic Eucharistic destinations, one is, for me, in a class of itself, because of the Eucharistic saints who have hallowed it.
It’s the Shrine of Our Lady of the Martyrs in Auriesville, New York, where in the 1640s Sts. Isaac Jogues, René Goupil and Jean Lalande all gave their lives out of a desire to bring to the Indigenous people in Canada and upstate New York the Eucharistic love of the One who gave his life for us.
It’s also where, a decade after they sanctified the soil by pouring out their own blood in union with Christ’s, the “Lily of the Mohawks” was born, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, who would become one of the great witnesses to Eucharistic adoration in the Church’s history.
It’s a place not just to reflect on the gift of the Holy Eucharist, but on our response to that gift.
St. Isaac Jogues, born in France, desired to be a Jesuit, priest and missionary, in order to bring to the New World not just the Gospel of Jesus but Jesus himself in the Blessed Sacrament. His priestly ordination was accelerated so that he would be able to join a group of Jesuits leaving in 1636 for New France. He loved Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and was accustomed in seminary not only to attend Mass every day but to spending long vigils in prayer before the tabernacle. He well knew that as a missionary, traveling by canoe for days, with limited supplies of unleavened bread and wine, there would likely be times when he would not have access to the altar or tabernacle, but he longed to be able to found new chapels, altars and tabernacles so that many others who did not know yet the ongoing reality of Christ’s incarnation might come to realize that God is with them, too.