The Traveling Catholic

The Traveling Catholic

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Mother Seton House and St. Mary's Spiritual Center, Baltimore

While we were on vacation in May we visited the Mother Seton House and the St. Mary's Spiritual Center in Baltimore, MD. 

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton lived in the house for a year (June 1808-June 1809) after she relocated from New York.  She left to found the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's and the house was then maintained by the Sulpician Fathers whose seminary was next door.  It was rarely used and fell into disrepair.  Eventually, it was restored by many volunteers and is now back under the care of the Sulpicians.  We took a tour of the house.  Here are some pictures from that tour.

The original key...

Most of what is in the house is time period replicas, but there are two items that were St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's:  The framed picture of Jesus and the traveling chest shown below.

This was Mother Seton's sleeping alcove...

This was the upstairs room where the girls she taught stayed.
This was their "school room"...
another living room/school room...

The Mother Seton statue outside....

On the same property is the St. Mary's Spiritual Center.  The property used to be a seminary.  I don't think it is anymore, but it is still maintained by the Sulpicians.  The chapel there is very beautiful.  There's an upper chapel and a lower chapel.
Here are some pictures of the upper chapel...

This was the lower chapel.  It's basically beneath the upper one.
This is actually the chapel where St. Elizabeth Ann Seton took her first vows.
It was very small and simple.
The tour of the grounds was very interesting and the tour guide was very nice. 
If you want to know more about it you can visit their website here
There is much more information on their site.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Baltimore Basilica

Our last vacation was to Baltimore last month.  While we were there we attended mass at the nation's first cathedral:  the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Not only did we attend mass, but we also took their guided tour.  I must say the tour is a must-do!  This cathedral's design was overseen by John Carroll, the USA's first bishop.  Over the years, things had been changed and covered up but a few years ago they completely restored it to it's original design.  It's a beautiful cathedral and my pictures don't do it justice, but they will give you an idea of how fantastic it really is.

This is the outside.  It was so big that it was difficult to get a good picture of the outside.  It has a magnificent dome that this picture doesn't even show. 

One of my favorite things to look at when we visit a new church is the stations of the cross.  I always enjoy seeing the many variations of them.  These were fabulous paintings.  Most of them were bright (due to restoration) like this...

A couple looked dark.  The tour guide explained that the sunlight over the years had damaged the paintings, but a couple of them were in the undercroft so they are original.  This is one of them...
The lectern...

The ceiling of the dome.  There is a dove in the center.  This picture doesn't capture the depth of this dome, but it was amazing to sit under it during mass.  I found myself constantly looking up!  It's actually like an upside down wedding cake.  You definitely feel the Holy Spirit when you are standing under it!  And it was quite an engineering marvel at the time.

Along the bottom part of the dome area were these four inlaid pictures representing Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  They had been covered up at one point, but the recent restoration uncovered them.  I'm so glad because they were absolutely beautiful.

St. Michael the Archangel altar...

Pipe organ.  It's just to the left of the altar.  The choir loft was on the opposite side of the church, but somehow I missed getting a picture of it.

View of the altar from the back of the church.

One of the other domes.  It wasn't quite as big as the Holy Spirit one, but beautiful all the same!
The Bishop's seat...

We had lunch reservations across the street so we had to leave the tour early.  We were sad that we missed the tour of the undercroft.  It happened to be Mother's Day so we went back to the church after lunch to take a picture of me with the kids in the church.
The tour guide was still in the church and happily volunteered to take us down to the undercroft.  I'm so glad she did!  Lots of fascinating stories about it.  Apparently, the builders misread the original plans and didn't actually build it.  Instead, they filled it with sand!!  During the 2006 renovation all of that sand was removed....very carefully because there were priceless things stored down there.
Here are a couple of pictures of what you see when you first enter the undercroft.

I'm no engineer, but I found this interesting.  Forgive me if I don't explain it well, but there were these sloped areas of bricks down there.  The tour guide explained that that was how they made the building hold up the giant dome on the roof...they built these big inverted things under the ground.  Again, if you are an engineer, I apologize for my description!
They now have a blessed sacrament chapel down there...

And there's also a crypt.

We got a little treat on our tour.  The items Saint John Paul II used when he said mass there had just been taken out for something else and we got to see them!

They also have a little museum room. 
This is Saint John Paul II's vestments from his visit.

And these are some items of Cardinal Shehan.

All in all, I think they've had twenty-something future saints visit this church at one time or another.  (Sorry, I don't remember the exact number, but there's a plaque in the church with all of their names.)
John Paul II, Mother Theresa and Elizabeth Ann Seton were just a few of the names.
There are two very large paintings in the back of the church.  They were gifts from King Louis XVIII from France.
This one was on the left...

And this one was on the right...

At times I wasn't sure if I was in a church or a museum!  LOTS of history here.   If you're ever in Baltimore I encourage you to stop by and take the tour.
To see more about it you can also visit their website here.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception: Springfield, IL

In 2011 we took a trip to Hannibal, MO to visit all of the Mark Twain stuff there.  From Hannibal we decided to drive to Springfield and visit Lincoln's grave and home.  We were in Springfield on a Saturday and were going to St. Louis the next day.  We had a busy day with lots of stuff planned in St. Louis so we decided to go to church on Saturday in Springfield. 

I was a little disappointed that we weren't going to go to mass at the Cathedral in St. Louis the next day.  We had planned to visit it, but mass just didn't fit well into our schedule that day.  We went to the nearest church to our hotel in Springfield.  It was the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.  It was beautiful!  The mass was wonderful and the homily was great.  My disappointment about missing mass in St. Louis was forgotten once we saw this church.

Here are some pics I snapped after mass...

Not a great pic, but look how pretty the ceiling is...

To see the church's website go here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

St. Mary's Basilica, Phoenix, AZ

In 2009, we visited Arizona.  The main purpose of our trip was to see the Grand Canyon, but we saw much more than that!  We flew into Phoenix and saw a Diamondbacks game before heading up to our cabin in Flagstaff.  The afternoon before the game was spent exploring the downtown area.  One of the places we visited was St. Mary's Basilica.  It was beautiful!

This picture doesn't do the outside justice, but I couldn't get far enough back on the crowded street to capture the whole thing.


One of the stained glass windows.  I LOVE stained glass windows!

The confessional...

Their stations of the cross were some of the most beautiful I've ever seen.  I think I have the same fascination with stations of the cross as I do with stained glass windows!  I think it's because there's just such variety in them that I never get tired of looking at various ones.

The particular day we were there was Phoenix's first 100 degree day of the year.  (Lucky us!)  It was really hot!  When we parked in the lot behind the church we noticed a table with a cooler of water on it.  We wondered what it was for.  When we walked around to the front of the church we figured it out.  Apparently, several of Phoenix's homeless like to take refuge from the heat on the church grounds in the shade of the church and trees.  We figured the water must be for them.  A good example of doing for Jesus by doing for the least of his people.

If you want to visit St. Mary's or find out more about it here is their website:  St. Mary's Basilica