In the first two days of November, the Church celebrates the faithful that have gone before us with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. On the latter, we join together to pray for the souls in purgatory, that they may be fully purified and welcomed into their heavenly home by our Lord and His Saints.
Throughout the world, there are so many churches, shrines, and holy sites where we can pray before the relics or remains of the saints. We beg the intercession of these heavenly beings for guidance and grace in our walks here on earth. Because they have already been received into heaven, they aren’t in need of our intercessory prayers. The poor souls in purgatory, however, are desperate for our freeing petitions.
In honor of this noble feast, here are some of the top sites we pilgrimage to around the world that honor those who have died and are the perfect places to pray for your departed loved ones and all the remembered souls being perfected in purgatory.
Holy Land – Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Within the walls of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre stand the two most sacred sites in the passion of Our Lord: Calvary, where Jesus was crucified and the tomb where Jesus was laid to rest, later rising again. What better place to take on the Lord’s all-loving suffering and offer it for those in purgatory?
Washington D.C. – Arlington National Cemetery
Within the grounds of one of the oldest cemeteries in the US are the remains of more than 14,000 veterans and memorials to some the nation’s greatest heroes. Perhaps most famous is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, guarded 24/7 in honor of all those who have fallen anonymously.
Paris, France – Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. Standing in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, it honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The names of all French victories and generals are inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
Bruges, Belgium – Basilica of the Holy Blood
This quaint basilica earns its fame from the relic it holds within – a portion of the blood of Christ collected by Joseph of Arimathea at the crucifixion. It is contained within a vial made of crystal and precious stones and is brought out every five years for the Procession of the Holy Blood. Praying before this relic is another way to unite to the Lord’s suffering and death.
Rome, Italy – Capuchin Crypt
Under the church of Santa Maria della Concezione, the crypt holds the remains of 4,000 friars. Rather than bury the bones, the friars decorated a chapel with them as a place to pray and reflect on Eternal Life. A plaque in the chapel reads "What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be."
Rome, Italy – Catacombs of St. Callixtus
As the first official cemetery of Roman Catholics, this is where the popes of the 3rd century were buried and where the body of St. Cecilia was found. Here early Christians risked their lives to receive the Eucharist in hiding.
Rome, Italy – Papal Crypt
Located beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, pray before the tombs of some 91 popes and famous exiled royalty including Queen Christina of Sweden who gave up her throne to become Catholic.
Rome, Italy – Scavi
This rare spot allows you to view the ancient excavations under St. Peter’s Basilica that holds the tomb of St. Peter and ancient Christians.
Oswiecim, Poland – Auschwitz-Birkenau
A complex of 3 main and numerous satellite camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps and the site where over 1 million innocent Jews, Poles, and others lost their lives, including St. Maximillian Kolbe and St. Edith Stein.
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