Across the state of South Carolina, 27 churches, missions and shrines are dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
During the current Marian Year in the Diocese of Charleston, they have received a new designation, one that is special both in name and for the spiritual lives of people who visit.
In a letter sent to pastors on June 2, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone declared all churches within the diocese that have a title related to the Blessed Mother to be pilgrim sites until Dec. 12.
In his letter, Bishop Guglielmone cited Pope Francis’ message for the 32nd World Youth Day, dated April 9: “May the maiden of Nazareth, who in the whole world has assumed a thousand names and faces in order to be close to her children, intercede for all of us and help us to sing of the great works that the Lord is accomplishing in us and through us.”
Many of our churches bear the name of the Blessed Mother or are named after one of her manifestations. Some are based on geography, such as Our Lady Star of the Sea in North Myrtle Beach, while others reflect devotions, doctrines or visions, such as Our Lady of Good Counsel on Folly Beach and St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Edgefield.
Father Stanley Smolenski, spma, has a special perspective on the practice of making pilgrimages. He serves as director of the Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina — Our Lady of Joyful Hope in Kingstree, which hosts individuals and groups visiting the site.
Father Smolenski urges people to prepare themselves mentally and spiritually for any visit to a church or mission with a Marian name. He stressed the fact that a pilgrimage is more than a simple trip to be documented by photographs, or a post on social media; and much more than the popular phrase “been there, done that.”
“A pilgrimage should be imbued with the spirit of the Blessed Mother’s message,” he said. “It is a chance for us to enter more deeply into our spiritual lives, to motivate us to better live our faith with a stronger Marian dimension.”
Father Smolenski stressed that a pilgrimage offers the chance for each individual to receive a singular, special gift from the Blessed Mother, based on their needs.
“Before you visit a pilgrim site, pray to Our Lady that you will be open to what she wants to give you — that is the main thing,” he said. “We all don’t receive the same thing from her. We all have particular needs, both physical and spiritual, and she will enrich and strengthen us.”
Miscellany file photo: Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Camden is named for one of the many titles of Mary.
The Miscellany is publishing a weekly series, “Marian Mondays”, on our Facebook page featuring information about diocesan churches named for Mary. Visit www.facebook.com/The.Catholic.Miscellany to read more.
Below is a list of the 27 churches and missions devoted to Mary in the Diocese of Charleston, all of which were declared pilgrim sites by Bishop Guglielmone.
St. Mary, Yonges Island
St. Mary, Rock Hill
St. Mary, Greenville
St. Mary Help of Christians, Aiken
St. Mary Magdalene, Simpsonville
St. Mary Mission, Hampton
St. Mary Mission, Summerton
St. Mary Mission, Allendale
St. Mary of the Angels, Anderson
St. Mary of the Annunciation, Charleston
St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Edgefield
St. Mary, Our Lady of Hope, Manning
St. Mary, Our Lady of Ransom, Georgetown
St. Mary, the Virgin Mother, Hartsville
Stella Maris, Sullivan’s Island
Our Lady of Good Counsel, Folly Beach
Our Lady of Grace, Lancaster
Our Lady of La Vang, Greer
Our Lady of Lourdes, Greenwood
Our Lady of Peace, North Augusta
Our Lady of Peace Mission, Bonneau
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Camden
Our Lady of the Hills, Columbia
Our Lady of the Lake, Chapin
Our Lady of the Rosary,Greenville
Our Lady of the Valley, Gloverville
Our Lady, Star of the Sea, North Myrtle Beach