St. Joseph Church

Everyone should have friends who are willing to derail their plans to slam on the brakes whenever you gasp the words “look at that!”

My Pittsburgh pal is a champ in this category. When we spotted this Catholic church atop a hill in a tiny western Pennsylvania village, she didn’t hesitate to look for the entrance.

The door was open so we were able to let ourselves in. My friend prayed while I admired the quiet and the light of this beautiful sanctuary.

It really is gorgeous.

It was built in 1893 and, while it feels historic, it also feels fresh and well cared for.

The stained glass is magnificent.

The cemetery contains numerous old graves with interesting, finely crafted headstones.

Lovely, eh?

Just before we left, we met a woman who is a longtime congregant. We had a quick chat with her and she confirmed that the church has an active congregation and she seemed positively thrilled that we showed an interest.

It made my heart happy to think there are still people out there so devoted to their church and faith and that they would make strangers feel so welcome.

Basilica of Saint Mary

From Ohio’s smallest church to one of the state’s most ornate, I covered a lot of ground while exploring last Friday.

The centerpiece of my journey was the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Assumption in Marietta. It is open during the day for self guided tours and I was fortunate to find myself completely alone in this spectacular place.

The first Mass in Marietta was celebrated at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers when there were few Catholics in the area. It was led by the chaplain to a French expedition from Quebec. In the 1830s, land was acquired for a parish and a building was erected. Unfortunately, it suffered devastating damage from flooding over a period of years.

Land for this baslica was acquired in 1900 and ground was broken in 1903. It was consecrated six years later. By then the parish had over 1000 souls. Construction cost about $129,000, a King’s ransom a century ago.

The stained glass windows were created in Munich, Germany and they are stunning – jaw droppingly gorgeous.

There are some signs of the times. For example, they have roped off rows of pews to encourage social distancing and safe worship. There are also security cameras and a collection box in the entryway.

You can see ropes here, a smart move if you ask me.

There are amazing details to appreciate in every nook and cranny both inside…..

and out……

I mentioned yesterday that most churches used to be open and available all the time. This one isn’t available all the time but you can access it outside Mass hours and I’m grateful that they welcome visitors. It felt like a great privilege to sit quietly, to meander and to admire the art and craftsmanship at leisure.

Interested in visiting? Start with their website for updated information on their hours.