I listen regularly to Catholic talk radio show, “Calling All Catholics,” The Station of the Cross (101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY), and one of the priest-hosts is Peter Calabrese who works at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima here in Western New York
Making a pilgrimage to a “holy shrine” used to be a very popular endeavor for Catholics, although I’m sure much of the enthusiasm has faded among the younger generations. The Roman Catholic church teaches that its members can earn indulgences that remit temporal punishment in purgatory by visiting officially sanctioned, “consecrated” shrines.
There are many shrines all over the U.S., but the closest shrine to me is the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston, NY, around 100-miles west of Rochester. The shrine church was completed in 1965. It’s a glass-domed structure that depicts the Northern Hemisphere. A 13-foot-tall statue of Mary, “Queen of Heaven,” stands atop the dome (see photos).
On the 16-acre grounds are 150 statues of Mary, Jesus, and various saints. Special prominence is given to statues depicting the alleged Marian apparition at Fatima, Portugal in 1917.
Imagine the many thousands of souls who have walked the spacious grounds of this shrine over the last 52-years, stopping before the many statues and offering prayers to Mary and the saints, asking for their intercession and help in bringing them to salvation. Most of what is presented at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is un-Biblical and even anti-Biblical. Many would say the shrine buildings and grounds are beautiful and inspiring. The lights. The statues. It’s all meant to appeal to the flesh. But genuine Christians worship the Lord God in spirit and in truth. Salvation does not come by pilgrimages to shrines and other religious exercises. Salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Buildings crumble and fall but Christ is the solid Rock of eternal salvation. Put your faith in Him and nothing else. That is what Mary really desires.
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24
Just imagine, if you can, the apostle Paul and Barnabas, walking together through Lewiston and coming upon this shrine with its many statues and its focus on the “Queen of Heaven.” They would think they were seeing an idolatrous pagan Roman shrine rather than someplace supposedly associated with Christianity.
Below is a listing of all the Catholic shrines in the USA: