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.
Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”. Francis
The corner stone of Shrine Chapel was placed 80 years ago in 1938. The chapel is constructed of beach stone, gathered by volunteers, from around Shrine Island. 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.
“Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom 10:17)
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 depicts a scene of Christ's passion and death. The Station rock structures were built about 1940.
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.
Mary, star of the new evangelization, pray for us.
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.
“This hope, rekindled in us by the word of God, helps us to be trusting in the face of death.”
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 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 Catholic sacramentals, including medals, rosaries, books, crosses and special items relating to St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
The Caretakers' 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.