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OTTAWA, ON Aug 19, 2015/ Troy Media/ – Don’t have the time or money to visit far-flung religious destinations like the Holy Land or India? Here are seven North American religious destinations that might satisfy your spiritual itch.
Quebec City shrines. The Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec, the continent’s oldest Catholic parish north of Mexico, is a dandy way to explore the region’s Catholic heritage, including the monumental Sainte-Anne de Beaupré.
Gwaii Haanas, B.C. The Haida have lived in this spectacular part of the British Columbia coast for more than 12,500 years, using both land and ocean for cultural and spiritual sustenance. Through the Haida Watchmen program, you can learn about the intersection of spiritual and earthly life through the ages.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Toronto. Opened in 2007, this Hindu temple is a masterpiece of intricate hand carved traditional Indian architecture that enhances contemplation. An adjoining museum explains Indo-Canadian culture. The colourful Diwali festival in October is Canada’s largest.
California missions. A string of 21 churches established in the 18th century by Father Junipero Serra of the Franciscan order to convert native Americans, these stretch from San Diego to Sonoma. Some have museums. Some remain functioning churches. All are, collectively, the state’s most visited historic site.
Touro Synagogue, Newport, R.I. Built in 1763, this is the oldest surviving Jewish temple in the U.S., founded by Sephardic Jews fleeing the Inquisition. Though a National Historic Site, the synagogue remains an active Orthodox community. An adjacent centre houses two floors of exhibits.
Sight and Sound Theater, Strasburg, Pennsylavnia. America’s largest religious theatre mounts elaborately staged Biblical plays on a 300-foot stage that wraps around three sides of the 2,000-plus audience. It’s in Amish country, where you can also learn about that sect.
Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe, Mexico City. The most visited shrine in the Americas, this houses Mexico’s most popular religious image – a brown-skinned Virgin Mary that’s painted on the tunic of the church’s 16th-century founder. Each December, 50,000 celebrate Mary’s apparition here.
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