Pilgrimage sites offer opportunity for prayerful encounter with Christ
Year of Faith indulgences available to pilgrims
By Nissa LaPoint
Photo by James Baca/DCR
Churches in the Denver Archdiocese are wealthy—plush with the chance to see and hear, touch and taste the risen Lord.
Countless years—and in some cases more than a century—of graces make pilgrimages to parishes a chance to reconnect with Colorado’s rich Catholic roots and reinvigorate one’s faith.
During the pope’s proclaimed Year of Faith, several parishes have been named optimal pilgrimage destinations to seek Christ.
“One of the real gifts of the patrimony of the Church is the grace and the fruits of the Spirit that have built up over the years to allow these pilgrimage sites to speak to us about that very patrimony that has been handed down to us,” said Msgr. Thomas Fryar, pastor of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver.
Eight pilgrimage sites
Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila announced to faithful eight sites—seven churches and a shrine—located throughout the archdiocese, where they may visit and obtain an indulgence.
These include the Cathedral Basilica, Our Lady of Loreto in Foxfield, St. Francis of Assisi in Longmont, St. Helena in Fort Morgan, Spirit of Christ in Arvada, St. Michael (which will mark 100 years in December) in Craig, Our Lady of Peace in Silverthorne, and Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden.
“They are definitely sites that speak to us about the spiritual journey of the Church of today,” said Msgr. Fryar, who has been on some eight pilgrimages across the world.
These sites were chosen to represent the regions of the archdiocese and for their exemplification of the values of Vatican II. Mother Cabrini Shrine is also a frequented site for pilgrims and the Cathedral Basilica was chosen because it’s the archdiocese’s “mother church.”
History of pilgrimage
Retracing the steps of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection has become a practice since the first Christians. The primary pilgrimage destination has always been the Holy Land, but persecution in the first centuries made it a perilous journey. The popularity of pilgrimages spiked in the fourth century after St. Helena built churches at the places of Christ’s birth, entombment and ascension.
Perhaps the most notable time of pilgrimage occurred in the Middle Ages when pilgrims traveled to Rome, the place considered the center of the Catholic Church.
Pilgrims flocked to see the tombs and relics of the saints and martyrs. The Camino de Santiago de Compostela—an ancient pilgrimage route through France and Spain—became the iconic medieval pilgrimage that led to the tomb of St. James, where he is believed to have first traveled to spread Christianity and where people in the Middle Ages believed the world ended.
Wherever the pilgrimage site, faithful have traveled to seek Christ as an “instinctive notion of the human heart,” according to the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Some pilgrims have begun to visit the Year of Faith pilgrimage sites in the Denver Archdiocese.
Janette Fayhoe, liturgist at Spirit of Christ Church in Arvada, has prepared for the pilgrims. She gathered artifacts from the pre-Vatican II Era—including a chapel veil, an old Latin and English missal and the Baltimore Catechism among other items—and put them into a display case in the church gathering space.
“A lady over the weekend came and said she was making her pilgrimage,” Fayhoe said. “The people of Spirit of Christ are very proud of that.”
The church has also hosted speakers who’ve presented on the history of the Second Vatican Council and the history of the Church in Colorado. After Christmas, the church will show a Vatican II video series on Sundays and will change its display case.
Fayhoe said they’re excited about being a pilgrimage site.
“It was very affirming of the community to get that recognition,” she said.
Other churches, including Our Lady of Loreto, have been busily preparing for pilgrims. Many of the sites are marked with an official Year of Faith banner.
All are invited to visit the sites and join in prayer with the ones who invoked God before them.
About the Cathedral Basilica, Msgr. Fryar said: “Prayer has quite literally been prayed at that site for 100 years.
“It blends you with the heritage of what we’re standing on the shoulders of, and reminds us of those who will follow us, including how important it is for us to live our faith well.”
For more information about the sites and how to obtain the indulgence, see the accompanying boxes on Page 3.
Year of Faith Indulgence
What is an indulgence?
How to obtain it
In particular to the Year of Faith pilgrimage indulgences, it’s asked that faithful conclude with a recitation of the Our Father, the Creed, and offer invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Archdiocese’s Pilgrimage Sites during the Year of Faith