This week I have to agree with the movie title “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” How do we cope with the anxiety and the frustration brought on by world events? We might take refuge in one of the lovely Catholic sanctuaries our country boasts, breathe deeply, relax, and pray to the God in whose hands we are. If you need help locating such a place, the following book makes an excellent resource for you . . .

101 Places to Pray Before You Die: A Roamin’ Catholic’s Guide Thomas J. Craughwell

Franciscan Media, $18.99

In more ways than one, this book is a unique, fascinating read. A virtual tour of the United States, it is a handbook of sacred sites for every state: churches, shrines, missions, abbeys, retreat centers, museums, and hallowed grounds. The sites range from famous buildings like St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to obscure ones like the Convent of St. Birgitta, which at one time was supported by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

There are surprising entries, like the East Room of the White House where John Kennedy was laid out, the farm in Georgia where Flannery O’Connor lived, and the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art in Florida, where four Ruben paintings in honor of the Blessed Sacrament hang.

All of the places are described in detail: their architecture, furnishings, statues, stained glass windows, paintings, grounds, and treasures, such as the skeletons of two Roman martyrs St. Martin of Tours Church houses and the rare medieval manuscripts found in the library of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon.

A fair bit of American history is gleaned from the pages of this book. Readers will discover historical tidbits: the first shrine to Our Lady in the United States (Our Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine, Florida); the Great Elm monument in Boston in memory of Ann Glover, hanged for being a Catholic when Philadelphia was the only state where Catholicism was allowed; St. Augustine Seminary in St. Louis, Mississippi, the first to train African Americans for the priesthood; and Our Lady’s appearance to Adele Brise in Wisconsin, the only apparition in the United States declared authentic.

The descriptions of the sites often entail a short biography of notable Catholics, such as St. Damien, St. Kateri, Fr. Emil Kapaun, Venerable Henriette Delille, Michigan’s valiant priests Fr. Gabriel Richard and Venerable Fredric Baraga, Anton Dvořák, and Danny Thomas.

Anecdotes hold the reader’s attention. For example, after John Adams visited Old Saint Mary’s Church in Philadelphia, he wrote his wife Abigail: “Here is everything that can lay hold of eye, ear and imagination. . . . I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell.”

The book also introduces several Catholic devotions, such as the Virgin of the Poor, Our Lady of La Vang, and the Holy Child of Atocha.

A practical travel guide, the book begins each entry with the site’s address, phone number, and website address and concludes with practical information, such as the times and seasons the site is open and even the price of retreats; the sacraments and devotions found there, and whether guided tours are available.

The reader will probably first look up the entries for his or her own state and then either dip into this book at random or read it straight through. No doubt, the book will awaken a desire to visit many, if not all, of the sites described.


Where is your favorite holy spot to soothe your soul and connect with God?









  1. Manny on August 23, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    Oh I bought this too a couple of weeks ago and have been perusing it every now and then. It is unique and well worth having on one’s bookshelf. I wish I could visit them all.

  2. Manny on August 23, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Where is your favorite holy spot to soothe your soul and connect with God?

    I didn’t answer your question. We have a little local shrine in Staten Island that has a room to light candles, an outdoor row of statues, an outdoor stations of the cross plaques, a 24 hour adoration chapel, and a Catholic book store. It’s called the Alba House Wayside Shrine, and some blog named Staten Island Catholic had a detailed post with lots of pictures once. Here, if you want to see:

  3. Kathleen Glavich, SND on August 24, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Thanks for posting that web address, Manny. The courtyard of statues looks intriguing. Alba House is a Pauline Catholic publisher. Long ago they published a book by one of our Sisters that I helped her republish as “Go Teach! . . . And Jesus Showed Us How.”

  4. Mark on August 24, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    Hey Sister,

    A wonderful question.

    I know this may sound a little unusual, but it is when I’m alone suffering. Any long distance athlete will know what I’m talking about.

    There is something about suffering. Until you experience it, you will not know what I’m talking about.

    Yes, I know, we all have our own cross to bear, but there is a certain thing about being alone and physically suffering. You hate to be there, but on the other hand, you love it.

    What are your limits? What are your demons? Until you have gone to the end of the rope, how would you know when to ask for help? That is when I feel closest to God.

    Well, that and every morning that I wake up. I love life.


  5. Kathleen Glavich, SND on August 28, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Mark, you are blessed! Yes, your response is unusual. Thank you for your thought-provoking comment. It made me recall times when I was in pain physically and psychologically and encountered God.

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