The Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Martin Luther King Junior Drive Northwest, Atlanta, Georgia, Združene države Amerike

Website of the Sanctuary

+1 404 521 1866

Every day: 8.00 am to 6.00 pm

Church becoming a Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

On June 2, 1954 at the rededication of Immaculate Conception Church, the Most Reverend Francis E. Hyland, Auxiliary Bishop of Savannah-Atlanta Diocese, referred to the church, for the first time, as a Shrine to the Blessed Mother.

After many decades of special devotion to Mary, Immaculate Conception Church had been designated a shrine (a church hallowed by history)—by decree of Archbishop Gerald P. O’Hara.

Archbishop O’Hara affirmed that the beloved historic church would now be known as the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Shrine of the entire Atlanta diocese.

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The first beginnings 

The first beginnings of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the oldest church in north Georgia and Atlanta’s first Catholic Church, are told in stories of early missionaries to the area.

No existing records prior to 1846 verify when or where the first Mass was celebrated in Atlanta. Conflicting stories from that period suggest various private homes or a school building as the site of that first Atlanta liturgy.

In all probability missionary priests were ministering to Atlanta by the early 1840’s. These early missionary priests followed the railroad, celebrating Mass in various railroad camps and towns throughout north Georgia.

In his book History of the Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Van Buren Colley includes the following as missionary priests who served Atlanta Catholics on a monthy basis.

Atlanta Catholics completed their first church building in 1848. Not yet named, it was known simply as “the Catholic Church”. This building stood on the same site as the present Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. This first church was a simple wood frame structure similar to the construction of surrounding buildings.

Behind the altar of their new church, the parishioners hung a reproduction oil painting of Murillo’s “Immaculate Conception”. Anecdotal evidence states that this painting was chosen because of the special devotion to the Blessed Mother held by these early Atlanta Catholics.

The building was dedicated in 1849 by the Right Reverend Ignatius A.Reynolds, bishop of the Diocese of Charleston .

The first beginnings 

The first beginnings of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the oldest church in north Georgia and Atlanta’s first Catholic Church, are told in stories of early missionaries to the area. No existing records prior to 1846 verify when or where the first Mass was celebrated in Atlanta . Conflicting stories from that period suggest various private homes or a school building as the site of that first Atlanta liturgy.

In all probability missionary priests were ministering to Atlanta by the early 1840’s. These early missionary priests followed the railroad, celebrating Mass in various railroad camps and towns throughout north Georgia . In his book History of the Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Van Buren Colley includes the following as missionary priests who served Atlanta Catholics on a monthy basis, the Fathers: Jeremiah F. O’Neill, Jr.; John Brady and Gregory Duggan of Augusta; John Francis Shannahan of Macon; Jeremiah F. O’ Neill, Sr. of Savannah (an uncle of Fr. J.F. O’ Neill, Jr.); and Fr. Birmingham of Edgefield, SC. (Colley, pg. 9) Fr. Shannahan is credited by some sources with founding the Mission of Atlanta, but there no written record confirms this.

Atlanta Catholics completed their first church building in 1848. Not yet named, it was known simply as “the Catholic Church”. This building stood on the same site as the present Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. This first church was a simple wood frame structure similar to the construction of surrounding buildings.

Behind the altar of their new church, the parishioners hung a reproduction oil painting of Murillo’s “Immaculate Conception”. Anecdotal evidence states that this painting was chosen because of the special devotion to the Blessed Mother held by these early Atlanta Catholics. The building was dedicated in 1849 by the Right Reverend Ignatius A.Reynolds, bishop of the Diocese of Charleston .

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