National Eucharistic Pilgrimage's Marian Route includes landmarks dedicated to Mary

A statue of Jesus facing the Golden Dome with its statue of Mary atop the administration building of the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind., is seen Aug. 6, 2021. (OSV News photo/Chaz Muth)

LAKE ITASCA, Minn. (OSV News) -- Major cities and country parishes alike are preparing for the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage's Marian Route to make its way over the course of eight weeks through the Midwest, from northern Minnesota through Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

Beginning on Pentecost May 19, the Marian Route is one of four National Pilgrimage Routes that will converge in Indianapolis ahead of the July 17-21 National Eucharistic Congress. The pilgrimage and the congress are part of the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that launched in 2022.

The route will be traveled by six perpetual pilgrims accompanied by chaplains from the Franciscans Friar of the Renewal. While Catholics may join the pilgrims for legs of their journey, they are especially encouraged to join the route's public events, which include Masses, all-night adoration and confessions, a boat-based procession, healing services, blessings of varied professions, testimonies and academic panels, potluck dinners and cultural dances. The route itself is named for its visit to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion, and many of the sites of the route's events are associated with devotion to Mary.

The following is a list of selected highlights from the pilgrimage's northern route. Find information organized by diocese for the full Marian Route at

Mississippi River Headwaters: Lake Itasca, Minnesota: The pilgrimage begins May 19 in northwest Minnesota's Diocese of Crookston with a large outdoor Pentecost Mass just outside Itasca State Park celebrated by Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston. Bishop Cozzens spearheaded the National Eucharistic Revival during his term as the head of the USCCB's Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, and who now serves as chairman of the National Eucharistic Congress Inc. Following the Mass, the pilgrims will process with Minnesota bishops to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Flowing as a small stream out of Lake Itasca before winding into America's second longest river, the Mississippi was called "Conception River" by the French Jesuit explorer Father Jacques Marquette in the 1670s in honor of Mary as the Immaculate Conception, to whom he entrusted his voyage on it.

Lake Superior, Duluth, Minnesota: From Itasca, the pilgrims will head east into the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, where they'll stop May 21 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth, overlooking the southwest point of Lake Superior. (Later on their journey they'll follow the western and southern edges of Lake Michigan.)

Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, Minnesota: After continuing their journey through the Diocese of St. Cloud in central Minnesota, the pilgrims will travel through the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. There they'll participate in multiple events at the Cathedral of St. Paul, including a 5-mile procession along a historic avenue from the University of St. Thomas to the cathedral May 27, Memorial Day. In 2009, the Holy See designated the iconic cathedral the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul. Three years later, the Holy See declared it shared a “bond of spiritual affinity” with the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wisconsin: The pilgrims will then travel southeast through the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, processing June 7 into the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. During a procession through the dioceses' border, Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester will hand the monstrance to the newly installed Bishop Gerard W. Battersby of La Crosse. In 2019, Bishop Barron began floating the idea of a national Eucharistic initiative while leading the USCCB's Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. On June 8, the pilgrims will stop for adoration and reflection at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which honors Mary's apparitions in 1531 to St. Juan Diego near what is now Mexico City. Tucked in the hills outside of La Crosse on 70 acres, the shrine opened in 2008 under the patronage of Cardinal Raymond Burke, a former bishop of La Crosse.

National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion, Champion, Wisconsin: The pilgrims will continue into the Diocese of Green Bay, home to the only approved Marian apparition site in the U.S., the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion. In 1859, Mary appeared -- dressed in dazzling white and crowned with stars -- multiple times to Adele Brise, a 28-year-old Belgian immigrant who was walking to Mass. When Adele asked what the lady wanted, Mary told her she was the Queen of Heaven and asked her to pray for the conversion of sinners and to catechize the children "in this wild country." Adele became a catechist and drew other women to her mission. Mary's protection over Adele and her companions is credited for their chapel emerging unscathed in 1871 from the Great Peshtigo Fire, the most devastating forest fire in U.S. history. The perpetual pilgrims will visit the shrine June 16 for a talk, Mass, a Eucharistic rosary procession and adoration.

Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago: From Green Bay, the pilgrims will head south to Milwaukee and then into the Greater Chicago Area, where they'll spend six days zigzagging to different events celebrating the region's different Catholic cultures. On June 30, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago will lead a Eucharistic procession on the campus of Holy Name Cathedral following Mass. With its impressive neo-Gothic design, Holy Name became Chicago's cathedral in the rebuilding of churches lost in the Great Chicago Fire (which occurred on the same night in 1871 as the Peshtigo fire). Also on June 30, the pilgrims will attend Mass with Bishop Joy Alappatt and the Syro-Malabar community.

University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana: From Chicago, the pilgrims will continue east through Indiana and the Diocese of Gary into the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. From July 5-7, the perpetual pilgrims will be on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, where several events will be held at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Meanwhile, on July 5 the university's McGrath Institute for Church Life will hold a panel of theology professors discussing the Eucharist. Named for Our Lady of the Lake, the university was founded in 1844 by a 28-year-old French priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross. From Notre Dame, the pilgrims will wind south through the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, arriving in Indiana's capital city July 14.


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