This weekend I happened to stumbled upon two pilgrimage sites for the Year of Faith in Denver, CO in less than 48 hours. It was quite the blessed surprise (and not so much an accident!).
I was in Denver last week for work and decided to stay the weekend to spend some time sightseeing with a friend who flew up to join me. I was picked up from the airport by a writer for the Catholic News Agency who suggested the Mother Cabrini Shrine when I asked for some of the must-see sights in Denver.
According to a decree issued by the Vatican, Catholics who participate in events connected with the Year of Faith can receive a special indulgence. Locations for the Year of Faith pilgrimage sites are designated by local Bishops. For example, St. Mary Cathedral in Austin, St. Mary Parish in College Station, St. Mary Parish in Lampasas and St. Louis Parish in Waco are all designated as pilgrimage sites by Bishop Joe Vasquez.
So, on Saturday my friend and I began our trek out to the Mother Cabrini Shrine. The shrine is in Golden, Colorado (about twenty minutes away from Denver) and was the site of a summer camp for an orphanage started by Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini in 1910.
Initially there was no reliable source of water and water had to be transported in, but while walking the property with the Sisters, Mother Cabrini saw a large red rock that she struck with her cane and said “Here is water, you must dig in the ground.”
Although it seemed impossible, the water appeared and became a spring that flows on today. Many people have said they have been cured from ailments by drinking from this source.
Perhaps one of the greatest focal points of the Shrine is the stairway of prayer. After 373 stairs to the top pilgrims will find a 22-foot-tall statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A concrete staircase was constructed along the path that Mother Cabrini, her fellow Sisters and children took to the top of the mountain to pray and marvel at the backdrop of mountains.
Those 373 steps are symbolic of Jesus’ journey on the sorrowful way to his crucifixion and death. Mosaic Stations of the Cross line the ascending staircase to allow visitors to reflect on the life of Christ as they ascend the mountain.
Mother Cabrini is also the first citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Catholic church. Her first miracle is a miraculous healing of a newborn’s sight when a nurse mistakenly put a drop of higher concentrated silver nitrate in his eyes causing him to become blind. The boy commented on Mother Cabrini’s beautification on Vatican radio 17 years later and said, “I for one know that the age of miracles has not ended.”
On the Saturday afternoon we visited, there was a large group of pilgrims, some of which had walked from downtown Denver. One of the workers mentioned that for some, the journey took two days!
Prayer to Saint Francis Cabrini
Saint Francis Cabrini – Woman of God, Woman of Spirit and Vision – You crossed the oceans many times to bring the love of Christ to many nations.
You offered the people you met the gift of life and love by responding to their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in practical and creative ways.
Against great odds you achieved what was thought to be impossible. Inspired by your sense of justice, your love and compassion I come to you now to intercede for me through the Heart of Jesus.
Watch over me this day and those I love. Strengthen me in my weakness, sustain me in my struggles, bring me a deep and lasting peace and make me whole again.
May I recognize Christ in the people I meet and respond to them with respect and sensitivity as you did.
I ask this through our one God, for your God is my God now and forever. Amen.
For Sunday Mass, we attended the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver, Colorado. The church was absolutely beautiful!
The Basilica recently celebrated it’s centennial (constructed in 1902 and finished in 1911) and Pope John Paul II even celebrated Mass here as part of the Denver World Youth Day activities in 1993.
Have you been on a pilgrimage for the Year of Faith? Where did you go?