A Catholic Pilgrimage through American History

People and Places that Shaped the Church in the United States
Foreword by: Mike Aquilina

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Format: Paperback

Publication date: April 8, 2022

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Awarded third place in pilgrimages/Catholic travel by the Catholic Media Association.

Historian Kevin Schmiesing takes you to more than two-dozen sites and events that symbolize and embody America’s rich and sometimes tumultuous Catholic past, including the Santa Fe Trail, Gettysburg, and the Bourbon Trail. You’ll also meet both famous and infamous Catholics—including Augustus Tolton, Dr. Samuel Mudd, and Frances Cabrini—who impacted our nation’s history.

The idea for A Catholic Pilgrimage through American History came from Schmiesing’s mother, he says. She turned every childhood vacation into a pilgrimage, purposely inserting religious sites into the family’s journey to places such as Niagara Falls, Washington, DC, or Myrtle Beach.

Catholics have been part of the American experiment since the beginning—in founding the colonies and expanding the west, building education and health care systems, abolishing slavery, fighting on the front lines, and advancing science, technology, and space exploration. Each of the twenty-seven sites on Schmiesing’s virtual itinerary—including, the Washington Monument, Wounded Knee Creek, the University of Notre Dame, and Mission San Diego de Alcalá—transports you to a significant time in US history and connects the dots to our Catholic heritage. You will meet notable Catholics such as John F. Kennedy, Black Elk, and Katharine Drexel, and learn more about their contributions to history.

You will explore the various and sometimes conflicting roles Catholics have played in key periods and events through the stories of shrines, memorials, and other historic places including:

  • the Catholic Plymouth Rock—St. Mary’s City, Maryland;
  • the Bourbon Trail—Church of St. Thomas, Bardstown, Kentucky;
  • the Pope’s Stone—the Washington Monument in the District of Columbia;
  • a Catholic mission and a Native American tragedy: Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota; and
  • the home of the first Black priest—the churches of Quincy, Illinois.

Product Details

Pages: 288

Trim size: 6 x 9 inches

ISBN: 9781646800902

Imprint: Ave Maria Press

  • “A guide for travelers searching for truth.”

    “This book is a guide for travelers willing to go in any direction in search of the truth about themselves, because that's what we're looking for when we pursue history.”

    From the foreword by Mike Aquilina
    Author of A History of the Church in 100 Objects

  • “Eye-opening.”

    “An eye-opening look at a past—often inspiring and occasionally scandalous—about which many American Catholics know far too little.”

    Russell Shaw
    Author of the American Church

  • “New possibilities for our future.”

    “History textbooks have usually told the American story as a fundamentally Protestant story that grows increasingly secular over time. Rarely is Catholic America integrated into our national macro-narrative. When you finish your trip through Catholic American history you’ll know just how wrong has been the traditional telling of our story and you’ll find new possibilities for our future.”

    Al Kresta
    President and CEO of Ave Maria Radio
    Host of Kresta in the Afternoon

  • “Inspiring.”

    “You'll be inspired by the heroic men and women and their invaluable contributions to Catholic America.”

    Fr. Edward Looney
    Author of A Heart Like Mary's

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