Catholic Travel Series: Holy Hill Basilica | Hubertus, Wisconsin


When we think about Catholic pilgrimage sites, places like Rome, Lourdes, or Fatima come to mind. However, the United States offers dozens of amazing pilgrimage sites. These are only three of the many Catholic landmarks to visit in the United States, all located within the wonderful state of Wisconsin. The last stop is in Hubertus, Wisconsin.

Holy Hill Basilica and National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians

Holy Hill is the highest peak of the Kettle Moraine, a chain of hills and pot-shaped valleys that begins in the Whitewater area and extends northeast to Door County. The shrine itself sits on about 40 acres, but over the years the Discalced Carmelite friars have acquired an additional 400 acres of surrounding woodland to preserve the area's contemplative atmosphere.

This Basilica is spectacular on its own. Visitors can climb a 178-step observation tower to view the Milwaukee skyline, along with breathtaking views of the natural surroundings. The tower is one of the highest points in southeastern Wisconsin.

Inside the upper church, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. John of the Cross, founders of the Discalced Carmelites, are depicted in mosaics. Greek wrought-iron letters are set into the ceiling lamps of the upper church, spelling out the word hodegetria. “Hod” means "way" and “egetria” refers to a feminine leader or guide. Thus the reference is to Mary, guide of the Way to Christ. The stained glass windows are both elegant and peace-inspiring with a perfectly balanced blend of hues and Marian symbols.

The shrine chapel houses a gorgeous, ivory-colored, and gold leaf statue of Our Lady of Holy Hill. The statue is set against a circular wall of pink-veined Kasota marble. Bronze ornaments in the shape of rays and flowers complete the stunning composition behind the beautiful altar where the Holy Sacrament stands most days for adoration. Crutches and other mementos left by pilgrims who have sought healing from Our Lady of Holy Hill line the entrance of the Chapel.

A visit to the enormous bookstore and gift shop is a must, as well as a stop in the cafeteria, to get a cup of tea or coffee along with one of the many fantastic desserts available.

In this COVID-19 times, it shouldn’t be too difficult to take a socially distanced road trip and devote some time of prayer and reflection in each one of these inspiring places.

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