Heavenly St. Louis

Day One

1. Old Cathedral

0.5 Hours

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 (www.catholic-forum.com/stlouisking) (15-30 min.), 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.

http://www.oldcathedralstl.org/ | Get Directions

2. Cathedral Basilica

1.0 Hour

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.

http://cathedralstl.org/ | Get Directions

3. Christ Church Cathedral

0.5 Hours

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.

http://www.christchurchcathedral.us/ | Get Directions

4. Historic Trinity Lutheran Church

0.5 Hours

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.

http://trinitystlouis.com/ | Get Directions

5. The Shrine of St. Joseph

0.5 Hours

Opened in 1846, the church was 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.

http://www.shrineofstjoseph.org/ | Get Directions

6. Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos

1.0 Hour

Described as a “galaxy of magnificent multi-colored rock grottos, the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos (www.blackmadonnashrine.org) (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, sea shells 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.

http://www.franciscancaring.org/blackmadonnashri.html | Get Directions

7. The Museum of Contemporary Religious Art

1.0 Hour

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

http://www.slu.edu/mocra | Get Directions

8. Saint Louis University Museum of Art

1.0 Hour

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.

http://sluma.slu.edu | Get Directions

Day Two

1. Concordia Historical Institute

1.0 Hour

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.

http://www.lutheranhistory.org/ | Get Directions

2. Shrine of St. Rose Phillippine Duchesne

1.0 Hour

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.

http://duchesneshrine.org/ | Get Directions

3. Holy Family Chapel

1.0 Hour

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.

http://www.csjsl.org/index.php | Get Directions

4. National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows

1.5 Hours

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.

http://snows.org/ | Get Directions

5. The Church of the Holy Family

1.0 Hour

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.

http://www.holyfamily1699.org/ | Get Directions
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