Following the Trail of Faith in Southern Indiana

When we travel, we often visit area churches. We especially enjoy architecturally and/or historically significant churches, whether attending Sunday Mass or just touring. So when we were in South Indiana’s Dubois County, we were anxious to follow some of the Trail of Faith.

What is the Trail of Faith?

Nineteen of Dubois County’s oldest churches make up the Trail of Faith. All of the churches on the non-denominational trail have been standing on their original foundations for at least one hundred years.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Our first stop was St. Mary’s Catholic Church, built in 1886, in Huntingburg. Unfortunately, a funeral was taking place when we got there, so we couldn’t go inside. I would have loved to have seen the stained glass windows, created by Emil Frei Art Glass in St. Louis. According to St. Mary’s parishioner Steve Uebelhor, “[Frei’s work] reminds you of the European style churches where they have a lot of deep reds and purples and so forth indicating blood and suffering in their artwork.”

Trail of Faith - St Marys Church

Salem United Church of Christ

Our next stop was Salem United Church of Christ. As we stood outside taking photographs, the pastor, Reverend Mark West, happened to stop by. Reverend West was more than happy to show us the inside of this church, which was constructed in 1890.

Trail of Faith - Salem United Church of Christ

St. Joseph Catholic Church

Driving north to Jasper, Indiana, we stopped at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Father Fidelius Maute took on the task of building the church in 1867. He designed and oversaw construction himself to save money. Construction of this towering stone church was completed in 1880.

Trail of Faith - St Joseph Catholic Church

Trail of Faith - St Joseph Catholic Church 2

Grotto at Cathedral Health Care Center

The Grotto of Geodes at Cathedral Healthcare Center in Jasper isn’t part of the Trail of Faith, but it’s definitely worth a stop. European grottos inspired Father Phillip Ottavi, an Italian immigrant, to build the grotto in Jasper on the Cathedral Health Care grounds. Over ten years, from 1960 to 1970, Father Ottavi and area residents built the grotto, constructed completely with area geodes.

Trail of Faith - Grotto at Cathedral Health Care Center

Monastery Immaculate Conception

Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand is a Trail of Faith highlight. Known locally as the “Castle on the Hill,” the monastery is home to one of the largest communities of Benedictine sisters in the United States. Sister Christine, our delightful tour guide, first related the fascinating history, which began 150 years ago, in 1867. She then took us on a tour of the church. In 2005 the church underwent an extensive restoration. Although they mostly restored the church to its original splendor, some changes were made to better accommodate needs.

Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God
  • From her childhood on an Iowa farm, Lori Erickson grew up to travel the world as a writer specializing in holy sites—journeys that led her on an ever-deepening spiritual quest
  • In Holy Rover, she weaves her personal narrative with descriptions of a dozen pilgrimages
  • Her trips give Erickson the chance to reflect on her Lutheran upbringing, her flirtation with Wicca, and her admiration for Tibetan Buddhism
  • A trip to the healing shrine of Lourdes is intertwined with the story of her son’s serious illness as a baby, while visiting Thoreau’s Walden Pond blends with ruminations on being a writer
  • Along the way, Erickson encounters spiritual leaders who include the chief priest of the Icelandic pagan religion of Asatru, a Trappist monk at Thomas Merton’s Gethsemani Abbey, and a Lakota retreat director at South Dakota’s Bear Butte

Plan to spend at least 1.5 hours at the Monastery Immaculate Conception. The tour takes about an hour, but you’ll want to stop at the gift shop as well.  Be sure to buy some Hildegard cookies in the gift shop. Made from the same recipe used by St. Hildegard in the 12th Century, people back then believed the cookies slowed down the aging process and increased intelligence–and they are delicious.

Trail of Faith - Monestary Immaculate Conception

St. Ferdinand Catholic Church

Father Joseph Kundek, the St. Ferdinand parish priest in the city’s early days, advertised in a German-language newspaper, inviting German Catholics in other parts of the country to settle in Ferdinand. By 1845, the parish had outgrown its original log structure, and construction of the current stone church began.

Trail of Faith - St Ferdinand Church

St. Meinrad Archabbey

Not technically part of the Trail of Faith because it’s outside of Dubois County, the St. Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana, is also a must-see. The community of 100 monks operates a graduate seminary and school of theology on the grounds. Guided tours are conducted only on Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. However, you can take a self-guided tour at any time. Stop in the gift shop for a visitor’s guide. Purchase some fresh-baked goods in the gift shop, or relax over lunch in the Abbey Café.

Trail of Faith - St Meinrad Archabbey

Monte Cassino Shrine

On our way to the St. Meinrad Archabbey, we stumbled upon the Monte Cassino Shrine. The shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of Monte Cassino, who is credited with saving the vllage of St. Meinrad from a smallpox epidemic in 1871.

Trail of Faith - Monte Cassino Shrine

Ireland Methodist Church

The Ireland Methodist Church in Ireland, Indiana, was built in 1878. In 1996, the Ireland Historical Society took ownership of the building. The Historical Society museum is in the basement of the church building.

Trail of Faith - ‏Ireland Methodist Church

Shiloh Meeting House

Built in 1849, the Shiloh Meeting House was considered one of the finest country churches in southern Indiana. The church had two front doors: one for men and one for women. A cemetery surrounds the building, and across the street is a pet cemetery.

Trail of Faith - Shiloh Meeting House

If you follow the Trail of Faith

You’ll be able to enter some of the churches on the Trail of Faith, but only view the exterior of others. If you plan to do the entire trail, including touring the Monastery Immaculate Conception and St. Meinrad Archabbley, allow at least two days.

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Following the Trail of Faith


Disclosures: Visit Dubois County hosted my Dubois County visit. However, any opinions expressed in this article are my own.
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