Are you one of those who love pilgrimages and wondering what the most visited Catholic Shrines in the world are?
If yes, you’re in the right place because my family and I love going on pilgrimages, and in this post, I’m compiling some of the top most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites around the world.
What Are The Most Visited Catholic Shrines In The World?
Throughout the centuries, millions of faithful Roman Catholics have traveled on pilgrimage to some of the most renowned and holy sites across the globe.
From churches and chapels to shrines and cathedrals, from Rome to Jerusalem, these spiritual destinations provide pilgrims with a unique opportunity to deepen their faith and explore some of the most sacred places in the world.
1. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also known as the Church of the Resurrection, is considered to be the holiest site in Christianity. Two holy sites can be found in this Church: the site where Jesus was crucified and his empty tomb.
The church has already been a place of pilgrimage for centuries, and every year, millions of pilgrims from all over the world visit the site to pray, confess their sins, and deepen their faith.
The husband was trying to check flights to Jerusalem last summer, but I told him that it’s better for us to wait until #2 is older (he’s 3 now), so he can remember and enjoy the trip better.
Learn more about The Church of The Holy Sepulchre at https://custodia.org/en/sanctuaries/basilica-holy-sepulchre.
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2. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Concepcion in the USA
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is located in Washington, D.C., and is considered the largest Roman Catholic Church in North America, and one of the most recognizable religious sites in the United States.
The basilica houses a vast collection of religious art and artifacts, including a replica of the Miraculous Medal and the National Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
The basilica is a popular destination for pilgrims, both Catholic and non-Catholic, and is visited by millions of people every year. Visitors can attend Mass, pray, and take part in special services and ceremonies.
For more info, visit its official site – https://www.nationalshrine.org.
3. The St. Peter’s Basilica in Italy
The basilica is both the political and spiritual center of the Catholic Church and the chosen home of the Popes, and it is also home to the Papal court and the Tomb of St. Peter, the first Pope of the Catholic Church.
The basilica is soo beautiful and was very fortunate to visit it when I was still working as an Au-pair in Denmark in 2005. Hopefully, I can visit it once again with my entire family.
Learn more at https://www.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html
4. The Shrine of St. Padre Pio in Italy
The Shrine of Saint Padre Pio is another popular pilgrimage destination in Italy. Padre Pio (1887-1968) was a priest who was known to have had a direct spiritual connection to God.
He became known as the “Blessed” and is now considered one of the most famous saints in the Catholic Church. The shrine is located in San Giovanni Rotondo, a small town in the Province of Naples.
Learn more at: https://www.padrepiodapietrelcina.com/en
5. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, located in Mexico City, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The church is said to have been built on the site where Juan Diego saw the Virgin Mary, and is considered a sacred site by many Catholics.
The basilica is a popular location for pilgrimages and has been visited by millions of people throughout history.
6. The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a medieval Catholic cathedral in Galicia, northwestern Spain. The cathedral, which is also the final resting place of St. James the Apostle (Santiago in Spanish), is the largest Gothic church in the world and the most visited tourist attraction in Galicia.
It is also the final destination of the famous pilgrimage trail: Camino de Santiago. I was so blessed to be able to visit Santiago de Compostela with my family in the summer of 2021.
7. The Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Poland
The Divine Mercy Sanctuary is located in Krakow, Poland – a place of pilgrimage and prayer dedicated to the Divine Mercy devotion and the resting place of St. Faustina Kowalska (who devoted her life to spreading the devotion to the Divine Mercy).
The sanctuary includes a church, museum, and hospice, and is a popular destination for pilgrims who come to seek the intercession of St. Faustina.
The Church of Divine Mercy is the main building of the sanctuary and is dedicated to Jesus’ mercy.
The museum at the Divine Mercy Sanctuary houses a collection of artifacts related to Saint Faustina, including her writings and religious artifacts. Visitors can also learn more about the history and teachings of the Divine Mercy devotion.
While the hospice serves as a place of rest and healing for the sick, and it also provides medical care and spiritual guidance to those who visit.
Learn more info at: https://www.saint-faustina.org
8. Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a Catholic Marian shrine in Lourdes, France famous for miraculous healing due to its healing water.
It is one of the most visited Marian shrines (if not the most visited Marian Shrine) in the world and one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations, attracting over six million pilgrims each year.
The sanctuary was built in honor of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Bernadette.
This is my family’s favorite pilgrimage site and we’re so blessed that it’s just a 5-hour drive from our home. We love to visit the sanctuary once a year, but we haven’t visited since the pandemic started.
We arranged a visit in 2022, but unfortunately, we got covid, so we canceled our booking and finally went during Holy Week 2023.
For more information, visit https://en.lourdes-infotourisme.com.
9. The Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil
The Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Brazil and is devoted to the veneration of the Virgin Mary.
It is considered the largest Marian shrine in the world and was built over the spot where a fisherman found a statue of the Virgin Mary in 1717.
The basilica is home to a vast collection of religious artifacts and artwork, including a replica of the original statue of the Virgin Mary, as well as a museum, library, and cultural center. Every year, millions of pilgrims visit the basilica to honor the Virgin Mary, ask for her intercession, and celebrate her Feast Day.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida is an important destination for both Catholic pilgrims and people of all faiths and serves as a symbol of faith and hope for the people of Brazil.
10. The Shrine of Our Lady of Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Shrine of Our Lady of Medjugorje is a Marian shrine located in the town of Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The shrine is popular with pilgrims who believe the apparitions of the Virgin Mary have been witnessed there since 1981 and they come to the shrine to honor and venerate the Virgin Mary, seek spiritual guidance and healing, to experience a sense of spiritual renewal, as well as to ask for intercession.
The shrine is home to numerous religious artifacts, including a statue of the Virgin Mary, the Cross on Apparition Hill, and the Church of the Apparition.
11. The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal
The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is the site of the famous Marian apparition of three shepherd children in 1917: Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia. Each year, millions of pilgrims flock to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima to honor Mary and ask for her intercession.
The basilica is home to many sacred artifacts, such as the Capelinha (Little Chapel) which is the site of the apparitions, the tombs of the three shepherd children, and the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. A Candlelight Procession takes place every 13th of May to commemorate the first apparition of Our Lady to the three shepherd children.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is an important destination for Catholic pilgrims, as well as people of all faiths, and is a symbol of peace and hope for the world.
I was fortunate to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima twice when I was still single, and hoping to come back soon with my entire family.
Visit the official website for more info: https://www.fatima.pt/en
12. The Jasna Gora Monastery in Poland
The monastery is located in the Jasna Gora mountain, in Częstochowa, Poland, and is home to a miraculous painting of the Virgin Mary, known as the Black Madonna of Jasna Gora, which is venerated by millions of pilgrims each year.
The monastery is also home to a vast collection of religious artifacts and artwork, including a library that dates back to the 16th century. Additionally, the monastery is home to the Pauline Fathers, a Catholic religious order that has been based there since 1655.
13. The St. Joseph’s Oratory in Canada
The St. Joseph’s Oratory is a Catholic church in Montreal, Canada dedicated to St. Joseph and is considered Canada’s largest church, with one of the largest church domes in the world.
The oratory was founded in the mid-1800s by the Canadian Saint Brother André and it also serves as a memorial to him and houses a museum dedicated to his life and works.
Find more information and contact on its official site: https://www.saint-joseph.org/en/
14. The Notre Dame Cathedral Paris in France
Notre Dame is also widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world that was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. Aside from its fame for its impressive stained glass windows, its intricate stone carvings, and its towering spires, it is also home to many important religious and historical artifacts, including the Crown of Thorns, which is said to have been worn by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion.
Unfortunately, the cathedral caught a devastating fire that wrecked a lot of damage to the building, but efforts are already made in recent years to restore the iconic cathedral.
This is one of the Catholic destinations I visited in 2006 when I was still working as an au-pair in Denmark and hoping to visit once again with my family in the future.
15. The Sanctuary of The Holy House of Loreto in Italy
The Sanctuary of The Holy House of Loreto is a popular pilgrimage site for Catholics and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is believed that the house in which Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth was miraculously transported to Loreto, Italy in 1291 and the Sanctuary was built on this spot.
The main attraction at the Sanctuary is the Holy House, which is encased in a marble structure and is said to be the exact house in which the Virgin Mary lived. Also inside the house is a small chapel and a statue of the Virgin Mary.
The Sanctuary is visited by millions of pilgrims every year who come to pay homage to the Virgin Mary and to seek her intercession.
16. The Church of Nativity in Israel
The Church of the Nativity is located in the Old City of Jerusalem and is considered to be one of the oldest continuously functioning Christian churches in the world.
The church was built over the location where Jesus was born, and it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a popular pilgrimage destination for Christians from around the world, and a must-see for anyone visiting Jerusalem.
Inside the church is a grotto, known as the Grotto of the Nativity, which is said to be the exact spot of Jesus’ birth. The church also houses many religious artifacts, including a mosaic of Jesus’ birth, a mosaic of the Virgin Mary, and a mosaic of the Three Wise Men from many, many centuries ago.
17. The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy
The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is a large, Romanesque-style Catholic church in the town of Assisi, Italy. The basilica is renowned for its complex construction, predominantly Gothic architecture, and for being the burial place of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Completed in 1226, the basilica was enlarged and decorated over the following centuries. It became an international center of pilgrimage following Saint Francis’s canonization in 1227 and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 in recognition of its historical and religious significance.
The basilica is composed of two churches, the Lower Church, which is the oldest portion of the basilica, and the Upper Church, which was built in the 13th century. Inside the basilica, visitors can find Saint Francis’ tombs, as well as a rich collection of religious artifacts and artwork.
It is an important pilgrimage site, and it is visited by millions of people each year, who come to pay homage to Saint Francis and seek his intercession.
18. The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in the Philippines
The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, also most commonly known as Baclaran Church, is a popular pilgrimage site for Catholics in the Philippines.
The cathedral is home to the miraculous image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which is said to have miraculous healing powers. Devotees visit the shrine to pray and to seek the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The shrine also hosts various religious activities, such as novenas, processions, and masses.
The Shrine is an important place of prayer and worship for Filipino Catholics which is a symbol of faith and devotion for many according to its official site, five to ten million devotees, visitors, and tourists visit the shrine throughout the year.
I have been to this Church before for like 2 or 3 times while I was still in Manila applying for jobs abroad. but I didn’t know at that time that it was famous around the world.
Official site – https://www.baclaranchurch.org
19. The Sacre-Coeur Basilica in France
The Sacre-Coeur (Sacred Heart) Basilica is one of the most iconic monuments in Paris that is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Basilica is a popular pilgrimage site, as well as a popular tourist destination. Inside the basilica, visitors can find a massive, white marble dome and a large statue of Jesus Christ.
The basilica is also home to some of the most beautiful and intricate mosaics in France. The basilica is a symbol of peace and hope and is a place of prayer and contemplation for many. The basilica hosts regular masses, as well as a candlelit procession on the first Friday of each month.
The basilica is a popular destination for religious pilgrims and tourists alike and is a great example of the unique architecture of 19th-century Paris.
I also visited this Church when I went to Paris in 2006, hoping to be back with my family in the future.
Visit the official site for more info: https://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/english/
Final Thoughts: The Most Visited Catholic Shrines In The World
The top 19 famous Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world are some of the most important religious locations on the planet. From the stunning St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to the majestic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, these places have served as spiritual destinations for millions of pilgrims since the Middle Ages.
These pilgrimage sites, as well as many others around the world, are important for providing a place of solace and faith for Catholic Christians and all believers. Whether you are a veteran pilgrim or a first-time visitor, these sites are sure to leave a lasting impression and spiritual experience.
Have you been to any of the pilgrimage destinations listed above? Or do you want to add a site to the list? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
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