The goal of every shrine is to bring the faithful closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You are invited to explore these holy grounds to pray and meditate on the gracious love and goodness of God.
The National Shrine Chapel, constructed of Shrine-site beach stone, was built in the late 1930’s. Fr. William LeVasseur, a Jesuit priest from New Brunswick, Canada had the idea and vision to create a retreat center in Alaska. Bishop Joseph Raphael Crimont, S.J., the first bishop of Alaska, gave his consent and blessing to the establishment of the Shrine of St. Therese.
The stone structures sheltering scenes of Christ's final hours of human life are a Catholic devotional practice called the Stations of the Cross (or Way of the Cross). Each of the Stations describes a scene from the passion, death, or resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Station rock structures were built about 1940. However, new sculptures were created by the artist R.D. Robinson and installed April 1989.
Located just across Shrine Creek is a walking path called the Good Shepherd Rosary Trail which is wheelchair navigable. This path begins with a bronze plaque of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who reaches out and cares especially for those who are less fortunate in the “eyes of the world”.
At the end of the Good Shepherd Rosary Trail is a replica of Michelangelo's famous statue "The Pieta." The statue depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary cradling in her arms the body of her beloved son, Jesus, after he was removed from the Cross.
The Merciful Love Labyrinth was constructed in the spring of 2001. Just as the Chapel builders had done in the 1930's to provide rocks for the Shrine Chapel, Stations of the Cross and other building foundations as a labor of love, volunteers of all ages carried stones from the beach nearby for constructing the Merciful Love Labyrinth.
The National Shrine Columbarium was constructed on Shrine property overlooking Pearl Harbor in 1998. The Columbarium is a final resting place for ashes of many Catholics and non-Catholic Christians awaiting the Resurrection.
The National Shrine causeway, limited to foot traffic, provides access to Shrine Island. The original causeway, set in place before the Chapel was constructed, was built with logs, rocks and fill. The body of water north of the causeway is called Pearl Harbor, and it opens up to the Inside Passage waterway known as Lynn Canal. On clear days, the craggy, snow-covered Chilkat Mountains can be seen in the distance.
The Shrine Gift Shop is currently located in the LeVasseur Cabin, named after the man who first envisioned this Shrine and was instrumental in promoting it, Fr. William G. LeVasseur, S.J. The Gift Shop is stocked with numerous items, including medals, rosaries, books, crosses and special items relating to St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
The Caretaker's Home has seen many additions over the years. It began as a one-room log cabin with chapel in 1938. Although originally used as a retreat master's cabin and even considered as a convent site, it is now used to house the Shrine caretakers. It has been home for more than eleven different families. The Caretakers (Deacon Jeff and Lisa) reside on-site year round and are responsible maintaining the Shrine and greeting visitors from around the world.