The feast of St. Joseph, celebrated on March 19, honors the foster father of Jesus and the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was one of the most important figures in Jesus’ life and yet one of the quietest. However, St. Joseph remains a strong example to the faithful of trusting God, accepting his will, serving one’s family, and working hard.

In honor of the patron of the universal Church, here are five shrines dedicated to St. Joseph in North America that pilgrims visit throughout the year.

The St. Joseph Oratory of Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec. Credit: Andre Charron
The St. Joseph Oratory of Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec. Credit: Andre Charron

St. Joseph Oratory of Mount Royal — Montreal, Quebec

Each year about 2 million people visit the St. Joseph Oratory of Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. St. Andre Bessette, a lay brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was devoted to St. Joseph and his dream was to build a chapel dedicated to the beloved saint. The first chapel built where the Oratory now sits was 15 feet by 18 feet. It has now been enlarged four times. Many pilgrims climb up the 100 stairs to reach the church on their knees in a gesture of prayer. The Oratory was founded in 1904 and is the largest shrine in the world dedicated to St. Joseph.

St. Joseph Shrine — Detroit

The St. Joseph Shrine in Detroit was completed in 1873 and is a landmark center of the Catholic faith in Detroit’s historic Eastern Market district. The Victorian Gothic shrine was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 due to its beautiful stained-glass windows in the sanctuary and its intricate architecture. What was once a key parish in the area, in March 2020 the parish was granted the designation of archdiocesan shrine. The shrine, which offers daily Traditional Latin Masses, is home to an active and growing community. 

The National Shrine of St. Joseph in De Pere, Wisconsin. Benjamin Wideman / St. Norbert Abbey
The National Shrine of St. Joseph in De Pere, Wisconsin. Benjamin Wideman / St. Norbert Abbey

National Shrine of St. Joseph — De Pere, Wisconsin

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The National Shrine of St. Joseph in De Pere, Wisconsin, was initiated by Father Joseph Durin, MCS, pastor of the former parish, in 1888. On Sept. 25, 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued the Bull of Canonical Coronation for the solemn crowning of the shrine’s statue of St. Joseph. This statue remains one of only 17 crowned Josephian statues in the world by papal decree and the only one in the U.S. In 1892, the term “National Shrine of St. Joseph” began to be used and it has been defined that way ever since. In 1898, the shrine was entrusted to the local missionary Norbertines. Today, it  is visited by thousands of pilgrims each year seeking the intercession of St. Joseph.

The Shrine of St. Joseph in St. Louis. Credit: Jim Blum/Shrine of St. Joseph
The Shrine of St. Joseph in St. Louis. Credit: Jim Blum/Shrine of St. Joseph

Shrine of St. Joseph — St. Louis

Founded by the Jesuits in 1843, the Shrine of St. Joseph in St. Louis is one of the few churches in the Midwest to be the site of a Vatican-authenticated miracle. In 1864, Ignatius Strecker, a German immigrant, was suffering from an injury he received while working at the local soap factory. After all known treatments failed, he was given two weeks to live. He visited the church and kissed a relic of Blessed Peter Claver. He was miraculously healed and within a few days was back at work and returned to full health in a few months. The miracle was authenticated by the Vatican in 1887 and Blessed Peter Claver was canonized in 1888.

The miracles didn’t end there. During an outbreak of cholera in the city two years after Strecker was cured, parishioners gathered together and vowed to build a monument to St. Joseph if God would protect them from illness. No one who signed the vow died of cholera. The monument honoring St. Joseph, known as the Altar of Answered Prayers, was installed in 1867 and continues to be the centerpiece of the church today. Thousands visit the shrine each year. 

The Shrine of St. Joseph Guardian of the Redeemer in Santa Cruz, California. Susie Vega / The Shrine of St. Joseph
The Shrine of St. Joseph Guardian of the Redeemer in Santa Cruz, California. Susie Vega / The Shrine of St. Joseph

Shrine of St. Joseph Guardian of the Redeemer — Santa Cruz, California

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Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Shrine of St. Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer in Santa Cruz, California, is a ministry of the Oblates of St. Joseph. Construction of the church began in 1951 but it wasn’t until 1993, after extensive construction and renovations, that it was proclaimed a diocesan shrine in honor of St. Joseph. The shrine encourages the faithful to visit the chapel where daily Mass is held along with daily confessions. The shrine also has a coffee shop called Shrine Coffee, which is a nonprofit community coffeehouse seeking to evangelize through the “culture of encounter.”