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Patron Saints for Modern Challenges

If you had to name a patron saint of the Internet, whom would you choose? By 1999, a movement had sprung up among Catholic dot-com workers to petition Pope John Paul II for their own patron saint. And they had someone in mind: the learned Spanish bishop, Saint Isidore of Seville.

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Traveling to Sacred Sites across America

In the late 1980s, I lived in Brooklyn. I had a pretty nice, reasonably priced, one-bedroom apartment, but my neighborhood was, to be charitable, tired. On weekends, there was nothing of interest to keep me there, so I got in the habit of taking the subway under the East River to Manhattan.

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Holy Mission, Controversial Saint

Carmel Mission Basilica

The full name of this mission is San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo. St. Jun’pero Serra founded it in 1771. Of the nine missions Serra established in California, this was his favorite. He is buried here, and since his canonization, the mission church is home to his shrine.

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The Alamo: A Religious and Civic Shrine

Although the Alamo is a national historic site (especially for Texans!), most visitors don’t realize that before the famous 1836 battle between a few dozen men and a Mexican army numbering in the thousands, this site was already holy ground as a Franciscan mission founded to evangelize the area’s Native Americans.

In 1724, Father Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares relocated Mission San Antonio de Valero (founded six years earlier) to a more promising location. The Mexican government seized the property in 1792.

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The Basilica of St. Louis, King of France

The Basilica of St. Louis, King of France, formerly the Cathedral of St. Louis, and colloquially referred to as the “Old Cathedral,” is the only example in America of a historic Catholic landmark positioned under a modern secular landmark.

The basilica—the oldest Catholic church and the oldest building in St. Louis—stands below the monumental Gateway Arch, a glittering symbol of the city’s history.

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Catholic Sites to Explore: Ave Maria Grotto

When Michael Zoettl entered the Benedictines at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama, he had no plans of building a shrine. Taking the name Brother Joseph, he soon was assigned to the menial tasks necessary to keep the abbey running, including shoveling coal for the abbey’s power plant.

Although Joseph was obedient to his superiors and did his best, he found the work tedious. For relief, in his spare time he began to build miniature shrines that held little holy statues. These miniatures were sold at the abbey gift shop to support the missions.

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