Catholic Church near you a treasure of holy places
Saint-Gérard Majella celebrated mass as the NJ enters phase 2 of the reopening
St. Gerard Majella Catholic Church celebrated mass on Sunday morning, June 14, 2020, as New Jersey enters Phase 2 of reopening.
Amy Newman, North Jersey
With a copper spire that rises nearly 300 feet to the sky, this French Gothic cathedral is an architectural marvel. The impressive 45,000-square-foot building – featuring 23 altars, hand-carved wooden decorations, and stained-glass windows imported from Germany – could be one of the great churches in Europe.
It’s not. It is the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.
The centerpiece of North Jersey is one of hundreds of intriguing holy places across the country featured in the recently published, “Monuments, Marvels and Miracles: A Traveller’s Guide to Catholic America” (Our Sunday Visitor, 2021).
The list includes six more in Garden State, including the replica of the Shroud of Turin at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, the Blue Army National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Asbury, and the Holy Shrine. -Padre Pio in Landisville.
Americans who want to explore the monuments of Catholicism do not need to travel overseas to embark on a pilgrimage; they can just collect the keys to the car, author Marion Amberg said.
“The purpose of this book was to get people on the road to the holy places right here at home. You don’t have to go to Rome,” she said.
Amberg, a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based travel writer who grew up Catholic, hopes to offer believers a new way to explore America’s Catholic gems – more than 500 of them – which she gathered and organized by region.
Among her personal favorites, she said, is the Assumption Chapel in Cold Spring, Minnesota, also known as the Grasshopper Chapel. The chapel was built in 1877 at the height of the three-year locust plague that was destroying wheat fields in the Midwest. Father Leo Winter, a newly ordained minister at the time, encouraged people to pray to the Virgin Mary and asked the settlers to build a frame chapel in honor of “Maria Hilf,” which means Help of Marie, to avoid the plague.
“Within days of his dedication, the locusts were gone and never returned,” Amberg said in a recent interview with The Record.
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During her 13 months of research for this project, she developed a new appreciation for prayer when she discovered that three parishes – in Colwich, Kansas; Windthorst, Texas; and Atlanta – had prayed the Rosary every day during World War II. In each of them, every member who served in the military returned home safe and sound, Amberg said. “It demonstrates the power of prayer,” she said.
One of New Jersey’s most inspiring sites, she said, is the monument to the four chaplains in Kearny. The memorial pays tribute to clerics who gave their life jackets to four sailors from the SS Dorchester when the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1943.
“It makes you wonder, ‘Would I have had the courage and the faith to do what they did? “She said, adding that the men had given their lives so that others could live. “You have a Methodist (George Fox), a Rabbi (Alexander Goode), a Dutch Reformed pastor (Clark Poling) and a Catholic priest (John Washington). These four guys got along and respected each other. I love it. sculpture shows the four chaplains praying in their respective traditions. ”
Of the 904 men on board the ship, only 230 survived. Eyewitnesses recall that the last time anyone saw the chaplains was as they stood against the ship’s railing with their arms tied and prayed as they sank with the ship.
The story continues after the gallery
Many sites have inspiring stories behind them.
When a fire destroyed the interior of Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Jersey City in 1895, there was only a large wooden crucifix hanging above the main altar. The “miraculous crucifix” has since been worshiped by generations of parishioners and is now enshrined in a side altar of the church.
The Blue Army National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Asbury Park is a 150-acre retreat with an open-air chapel, a 24-foot statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and a replica of the chapel built at the Fatima apparition site in Portugal.
Infertile couples often come to National Shrine of Saint Gerard Majella at Saint Lucia Church in Newark for a blessing from Saint Gérard, the patron saint of unborn children, for a miracle baby. And women who have difficult pregnancies seek relief with handkerchiefs “holy handkerchiefs” touched to a relic of Saint Gerard. The murals in the chapel of the sanctuary depict the life of the saint in this historic church built by Italians and Sicilians in the 1920s.
The Saint-Padre Pio Sanctuary in Landisville is an open-air Roman Catholic shrine located on a former squash court. Italian-American farmers built the four-story outdoor sanctuary dedicated to the Roman Catholic saint known to care for the sick.
You don’t have to travel to Italy to see what is believed to be Jesus’ burial cloth: The Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary at Summit holds a 400 year old replica of the Shroud of Turin.
The book contains Catholic sites across the country which are picturesque as well as curiosities including the Christ of the Abyss, a nearly nine foot tall, two ton bronze statue of Jesus that was submerged in 25 feet of water at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Florida. The sculpture draws divers who often dive to touch the fingertips of the statue and then bless themselves.
Regina Laudis Abbey in Bethlehem, Connecticut is a sumptuous crib dating from the 18th century which would have been a gift to the King of Sardinia for his coronation in 1720. The collection, located in a monastery of Benedictine nuns, includes 68 hand-carved figures who are dressed in typical New Zealand attire -England.
Built to resemble the cloisters of medieval Europe, The cloisters of Manhattan is a quaint museum overlooking the Hudson River that will transport visitors to the Middle Ages. A branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it contains medieval gardens and several chapels as well as an impressive collection of over 5,000 works of art and architecture.
The oldest church in America is French: Sainte Jeanne d’Arc Chapel in Milwaukee dates back to the 15th century and was located in Chasse, France. According to legend, Saint Joan of Arc visited and prayed at the altar in 1429 before going to war. After World War I, an architect discovered the chapel and moved it to New York City, where it was purchased by the daughter of a railroad baron who lived in a French castle on Long Island. When a 1962 fire destroyed the castle but miraculously spared the chapel, the new owners donated the gem to Marquette University in Milwaukee.
The book was originally due to be published in 2020, but then the pandemic struck, and it had to be pushed back, Amberg noted. “The timing was good because people are ready for a new adventure but don’t want to go to Europe yet. This book takes them on adventures across America.”
Those who choose to stay at home can learn a lot about Catholicism just by reading the book, or they can virtually explore the sites as each entry links to a website, she said.
Amberg, who enjoys traveling, said she often combines the pilgrimage with her family vacation. “Visiting churches allows us to see the American melting pot,” she said. “We can learn the stories of faith from all the different cultures that make up our nation. ”
America, she tells readers in the introduction to her book, “has faith all around us.”
It can be found, she says, “in great cathedrals and tiny chapels, in miraculous shrines and underwater statues and even in blessed land.”
Deena Yellin covers religion for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to his work covering how the spiritual intersects with our daily lives, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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