Whenever I think of Auriesville, I think of, what I call, the “Kateri Shrine.” I finally had a chance to visit and it’s much more than a shrine to one person.
The Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine is the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs and the birthplace of Kateri Tekakwitha. Saint Kateri was born on this land but shortly after moved a few minutes west to Fonda where the National Kateri Shrine currently is. That’s where she was baptized and spent most of her life.
Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine is also to remember Father Jogues, René Goupil, and another lay Frenchman, Guillaume Coûture. They were captured in August of 1642 in an Iroquois raid on the St. Lawrence River. Then, they were brought to Osserenon (present-day Auriesville), survived gruesome torture and were enslaved. René Goupil died after a few short weeks and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Ravine.
Father Jogues remained a slave. According to the website, “Whenever he could break free, he found a quiet place, stripped the bark off a tree in the shape of a cross, and knelt and prayed. Pilgrims see the crosses on the trees here on this holy ground, placed in memory of his devotion.” After escaping, Father Jogues returned to act as a peace ambassador to the Mohawks. Things didn’t go to plan when the Mohawks blamed Jogues for a crop pestilence and he was killed with another missionary. “The ground of their blood sacrifice is considered a natural reliquary.”
The space is mostly an open field to walk around and reflect on the stations of the cross. There are also other historical and religious buildings surrounding the main coliseum (take a look at the map). It’s a beautiful property with easy walking. The path down to the ravine is a bit of a hike back up if you’re interested in going down there. It’s not usually too busy but many people take pilgrimages to the space and there is a large parking lot for when there are events. It’s a beautiful view to sit and reflect on a nice day outside.