What are the most popular — the most attended — shrines in the world?
There are some surprises here.
Did you know, for instance, that the tomb of Padre Pio is now visited by more people annually (seven million) than the Vatican museums? At least according to one survey (figures can vary wildly).
Meanwhile, up to twice or even three times that number yearly visit Guadalupe in Mexico (twelve to twenty million! No one disputes those numbers.).
That’s also twice or more the visits to Lourdes (where, to accommodate six to eight million, there are more hotel rooms than any French city except Paris).
A study by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation put Guadalupe at second in the world among all religions, surpassed only by the thirty million pilgrims who visit Ayyappan Saranam, India (Hindu). On its annual feast day of December 12, Guadalupe draws as many as or more than the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca!
Some put a Shinto temple called the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo at three hundred million a year — which if true would easily make it the world’s most popular.
Thus, in Catholicism, Guadalupe is first, followed perhaps by Padre Pio, or the Vatican, if one could guess at how many visit both the museums and simply stroll into St. Peter’s Basilica or the square. It’s standard for 15,000 to attend a simple Angelus. An guesstimated five million go there annually.
In third place is the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, where a image of the black Virgin, found on the shores of the Sao Paulo river in 1717, is venerated.
Next is the basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, built on a hill in Montmartre, Paris, between 1876 and 1919.
It is followed by Czestochowa in Poland, Luján in Argentina, Fatima in Portugal, the basilica of Saint Anthony in Padua, Italy, and Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Additional popular places of worship are: Assisi, Pompeii, and Loreto in Italy; Mariatzell in Austria; Knock in Ireland; Saint John of the Valley in Texas; the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington; and Yamaoussoukro in the Ivory Coast.
How many visit Fatima?
Four to five million, about like the Vatican. About 2.2 million visit Medjugorje.
Supernaturalism is alive and well, while worldly-focused, theologically-drenched religion, not so much so; fading rapidly.
Con-celebrating priests at Medjugorje, by the year:
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