Across the globe, there are many places that a Catholic simply must visit one day. Europe, especially, is filled with centuries-old shrines, basilicas, and other Catholic sites that take our breath away. Many Catholics keep a bucket list of all of the beautiful places around the world that they want to visit in their lifetime.
Time, cost, and logistics, however, often make it difficult to make any solid plans to travel far away from home. Fortunately, these difficulties are opportunities in disguise—opportunities to take advantage of the Catholic sites here in the United States. Some American pilgrimage sites look almost exactly like what we can see in Europe.
One such site is nestled in the heart of the South. Outside Birmingham, Alabama, is the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, also known as the O.L.A.M. Shrine, or simply the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
This shrine is modeled after the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy. It houses both the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration and the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, who are consecrated priests and religious brothers.
The main level of the shrine has 24-hour adoration. This is due to the charism of the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration, who ensure that our Eucharistic Lord is adored ceaselessly.
The chapel is divided into two sections by the enclosure wall that adjoins the altar which holds the monstrance. Visitors have access to the main section, while the cloistered nuns pray on the other side. Mass is held both in the main and lower-level crypt of the shrine.
The O.L.A.M. Shrine also features other activities and places to visit, including the Pope John Paul II Eucharistic Center. This site is a small museum that walks you through the biblical roots and history of the Eucharist. You can enjoy a guided tour at specified times.
Finally, outdoor sites are situated throughout the Shrine, including a Lourdes Grotto and the Eucharistic Stations and Garden, which illustrate the story of salvation.
The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament is a beautiful pilgrimage destination that is more accessible and financially savvy if you are looking to take a group on a pilgrimage. To plan your trip, visit their website here.
Mother Angelica lived and died in the monastery attached to this shrine. In her honor, The Catholic Company sells several of her books and EWTN episodes that you can watch anytime. Discover her works here.