The Cathedral Basilica St. Louis houses one of the largest collections of mosaic art in the world.

Heavenly St. Louis

Keep the faith and explore some of the historic, divine, art-filled and angelic attractions in Heavenly St. Louis.

1. Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos

Described as a “galaxy of magnificent multi-colored rock grottos, the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos ( (1 hr.) in nearby Eureka, Missouri, was hand-built by a single Franciscan brother. Visitors will see grottos dedicated to the Stations of the Cross, the Seven Joys of Mary, St. Francis, St. Joseph and more. The grottos are constructed of Missouri rock, seashells and even costume jewelry that has been donated by visitors or sent from foreign missions. The outdoor Chapel of the Hills is constructed of mosaics and paintings of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, also known as Poland’s Black Madonna.

The Our Lady of Perpetual Help Grotto at Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos.

2. Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (1 hr., by appointment only) houses the largest single collection of religious relics in the United States found west of the Mississippi. The collection includes the bodily remains of seven Christian martyrs and the relics occupy prominent places in the beautiful 1899 Romanesque chapel. The Sisters of St. Joseph were brought to St. Louis from Lyon, France in 1836 because of their skills in teaching the deaf. The order opened a school for the deaf here in 1837 that continues the sisters’ mission today, operating as the renowned St. Joseph’s Institute for the Deaf.

Covenant of the Sisters St. Joseph

3. Historic Trinity Lutheran Church

Historic Trinity Lutheran Church founded in 1830, is the oldest Lutheran church west of the Mississippi River and is considered the mother church of Missouri Synod Lutheran congregations. The first church on the site was destroyed by a tornado but was rebuilt in the same spot in 1896. The 1864 baptismal font and pulpit, which survived the tornado, are still in use at the church, and represent beautiful examples of German woodworking skills.

An aerial view of Trinity Lutheran Church in Soulard.

4. The Church of the Holy Family

In nearby Cahokia, Illinois, the Church of the Holy Family offered its first mass in 1799. The log church’s church’s construction is typical of the French Colonial vertical log style that used hewn walnut logs placed upright and leaning in from the base. The roof timbers are oak and the roof itself is made of cypress clapboards covered by sycamore. Wooden pegs were used in the construction instead of nails.

Cahokia Holy Family Catholic Church is the oldest Catholic Church west of the Alleghenies.

5. National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows

America’s largest outdoor shrine is located just 15 minutes from downtown St. Louis in Belleville, Illinois. Founded in 1958, the Shrine is open to people of all faiths and hosts a variety of special events including Hispanic and African cultural celebrations, the Our Lady of the Snows Novena and the popular Way of Lights. Visitors drive through the magical holiday display, which tells the story of the first Christmas in hundreds of thousands of tiny, white lights.

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL.

6. Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (The Old Cathedral)

When St. Louis was founded by French fur traders in 1764, one of the first buildings constructed was a church. Built on the site of that first church in 1834, the Old Cathedral is known officially as the Basilica of St. Louis the King. Located on the edge of the Gateway Arch grounds, the Old Cathedral Museum displays pieces of St. Louis’ early history including the original church bell and religious art from the late 1700s.

The Old Cathedral known officially as the Basilica of St. Louis the King

7. The Shrine of St. Joseph

Opened in 1846, the Shrine of St. Joseph noted as the site of a miracle that saved the life of a dying man who was healed after kissing a relic of St. Peter Claver. The miracle was authenticated as one of two miracles needed to canonize the saint, known for his work among the African people of the Americas. The central altar, called the Altar of Answered Prayers, was installed in 1867 after the parishioners asked St. Joseph to intercede and save them from a deadly cholera epidemic that swept the city. The Italian Renaissance-style altar was designed to replicate the Altar of St. Ignatius at the Jesuit Gesu Church in Rome. Every third Sunday of the month, the choir sings the Mass in Latin in the Baroque-style church accompanied by one of the largest handmade Pfeffer tracker organs in existence.

The interior of the Shrine of St. Joseph in St. Louis.

8. Christ Church Cathedral

The Christ Church Cathedral was designed in 1867 in the 14th century English Gothic tradition. The parish was founded in 1819 as the first Episcopal church west of the Mississippi River. Tiffany-stained glass windows and a massive carved marble screen behind the main altar are highlights inside the church, which has been designated a National Landmark. Concerts, organ recitals and other events are held throughout the year.

Christ Church Cathedral in Downtown St. Louis.

9. The Grandel

Originally the First Congregational Church, The Grandel was built in 1884 in the Romanesque Revival Style. It was in operation as a church for years before it became vacant. It was purchased by the Grand Center Organization in 1989 and the building underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation, transforming it into a 450-seat theater with an upstairs banquet space. The St. Louis Black Repertory Company and the St. Louis Shakespeare used the performance venue for 20 years before it was sold to the Kranzberg Arts Foundation in 2013. Now, called the Grandel, the building features a 600-capacity theater, a full-service bar and restaurant called the Dark Room, and the Grand Hall, a private event space available to rent.

10. Saint Louis University Museum of Art

Artifacts from Jesuit missionaries and a “santos” collection in the 15th century Hispanic tradition of religious devotion are on view at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art. Santos are carved and painted wooden holy images of Christ, the Virgin Mary and other saints created by worshipers to aid them in their devotion services taking place in areas where churches and priests were scarce.

One of the best university art museums in the U.S., the Saint Louis University Museum of Art encompasses an impressive permanent collection of works by modern masters.

11. The Museum of Contemporary Religious Art

Located on the campus of Saint Louis University, the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art is dedicated to the ongoing dialogue between contemporary artists and the world’s faith traditions.

The Museum of Contemporary Religious Art.

12. Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (New Cathedral)

The city’s burgeoning population soon outgrew the elegant riverfront cathedral, so a larger church was built in the city’s Central West End neighborhood. In 1909, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis was completed, but it took several decades before the 83,000 square feet of detailed interior mosaics were completed. The collection is one of the largest in the western hemisphere and was installed by a father and son team who used more than 41 million pieces of tile in 8,000 shades to create the storied artwork. On the lower level of the building – called the “New Cathedral” by the locals – the Mosaic Museum traces the construction of the facility and the artwork.

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is a distinguished work of art.

13. Concordia Historical Institute

The museum, archives and library of Concordia Historical Institute contain the world’s largest collection of artifacts and information on the history of Lutheranism in America. The Institute traces its core collection to the arrival of Saxon Lutheran immigrants to St. Louis in 1839.

Concordia Historical Institute Library Museum

14. Missouri Historical Society Library & Research Center

Located in a historic 1920s synagogue built by the United Hebrew Congregation, the Library and Research Center is home to the extensive collections maintained by the Missouri Historical Society. You can still see evidence of the building’s original purpose in the mural painted on the ceiling of the research center’s main room.

15. Shrine of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

This is where America’s fourth saint performed her works of mercy. Mother Philippine was the leader of a group of Catholic missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart who founded the first free school west of the Mississippi in 1818. Artifacts of the original log cabin school, St. Philippine’s missionary work with the Potawatomi Indians, and other articles of the convent’s religious and academic life also are on display. Tours include a walk through the historic 1835 convent, the museum and the beautiful chapel where the remains of St. Philippine can be viewed.

Shrine of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne