Holy Cross – Cincinnati Immaculate conception church

Holy Cross Immaculata Church, Guido Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, Združene države Amerike

Website of the Sanctuary

+1 513-721-6544

Every day: from 7.00 am to 8.00 pm

Immaculate conception church

Cincinnati Immaculate conception church, architecturally described as simple gothic, was completed in November of 1860 and soon thereafter became known as the Archbishop’s Church.

The first mass at Immaculata was celebrated on December 9, 1860, six years after Pope Pius the IX’s Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. See more Catholic Shrines and pilgrimages in North America.

See top 15 Catholic shrines in the world.

Praying the Steps on Good Friday at the Immaculate conception church

At 12:01 A.M. each year on Good Friday in Cincinnati, Ohio, something extraordinary happens. People begin to gather at the base of the steps leading up to Holy Cross Cincinnati Immaculata Church, preparing to take part in the tradition known locally as “Praying the Steps.”

The Good Friday Pilgrimage

During the construction of Cincinnati Immaculate conception church, Archbishop Purcell had a large wooden cross erected on the site. Catholics flocked to the cross, prayed for the completion of Immaculata and wore a path up the hill. To ease their journey, Purcell built wooden steps in 1860.

When Immaculata was completed, people continued to use the wooden steps and began praying as they ascended. Good Friday became a special day of prayer on the steps but the exact beginning of the Good Friday Pilgrimage is unknown. It seems to be something that spontaneously occurred and grew.

The earliest mention of the pilgrimage in Immaculata Church records is 1873 but it likely began before then. Immaculata became known as the Church of the Steps and the pilgrimage was known as “making the steps” or “praying up the steps.”

The wooden steps were replaced by the City of Cincinnati in 1911 (they were a public thoroughfare and the City was responsible for their maintenance). The new steps, 108 in number, were reinforced concrete.

Most people began their ascent of the steps at St. Gregory Street, prayed to the top of the steps and paused at the foot of the Wayside Crucifix located to the right of the entrance to Immaculata. After praying at the foot of the crucifix, they went inside and prayed in the church.

They then departed by the side door, walked two blocks west to Holy Cross Church and visited the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in the Holy Cross basement where they received a bottle of Lourdes Holy Water. They then proceeded upstairs and prayed in the church at Holy Cross.

The entire journey often lasted three hours. Some pilgrims began their journey at the foot of Mt. Adams on Eastern Avenue (now Riverside Drive), crossed Columbia Parkway on a pedestrian bridge, continued upward to Hill Street and then to the bottom of the Immaculata steps and on up to the church. There are reports of participants praying the steps on their knees.

Praying the Steps on Good Friday

At 12:01 A.M. each year on Good Friday in Cincinnati, Ohio, something extraordinary happens. People begin to gather at the base of the steps leading up to Holy Cross Cincinnati Immaculata Church, preparing to take part in the tradition known locally as “Praying the Steps.”

The Good Friday Pilgrimage

During the construction of Cincinnati Immaculata Church, Archbishop Purcell had a large wooden cross erected on the site. Catholics flocked to the cross, prayed for the completion of Immaculata and wore a path up the hill. To ease their journey, Purcell built wooden steps in 1860. When Immaculata was completed, people continued to use the wooden steps and began praying as they ascended. Good Friday became a special day of prayer on the steps but the exact beginning of the Good Friday Pilgrimage is unknown. It seems to be something that spontaneously occurred and grew. The earliest mention of the pilgrimage in Immaculata Church records is 1873 but it likely began before then. Immaculata became known as the Church of the Steps and the pilgrimage was known as “making the steps” or “praying up the steps.”

 

The wooden steps were replaced by the City of Cincinnati in 1911 (they were a public thoroughfare and the City was responsible for their maintenance). The new steps, 108 in number, were reinforced concrete. Most people began their ascent of the steps at St. Gregory Street, prayed to the top of the steps and paused at the foot of the Wayside Crucifix located to the right of the entrance to Immaculata. After praying at the foot of the crucifix, they went inside and prayed in the church. They then departed by the side door, walked two blocks west to Holy Cross Church and visited the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in the Holy Cross basement where they received a bottle of Lourdes Holy Water. They then proceeded upstairs and prayed in the church at Holy Cross. The entire journey often lasted three hours. Some pilgrims began their journey at the foot of Mt. Adams on Eastern Avenue (now Riverside Drive), crossed Columbia Parkway on a pedestrian bridge, continued upward to Hill Street and then to the bottom of the Immaculata steps and on up to the church. There are reports of participants praying the steps on their knees.

The passing of time and the effect of the weather led to the construction of a third set of steps in 1958. The City of Cincinnati again built and paid for the steps. They were constructed of concrete and contained 85 steps and three landings. The pilgrimage was shortened in 1970 when Holy Cross Church and the Grotto were closed.

The late Father Conlith Overman, a Mt. Adams boy and one of the last Passionist Priests at Immaculata, when asked why people continue participating in the pilgrimage, had this to say: “The news stories about the steps undoubtedly bring some people to Mt. Adams but memory is the chief motivation. Many grandparents bring their grandchildren with them to pray the steps. The old folks prayed the steps when they were children and now they pass on the tradition to the next generation.”

The current steps were again built by the City and officially opened when they were blessed by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk on Holy Thursday, April 9, 2009. They consist of 96 steps leading to a viewing platform at the top. The parish welcomes the pilgrims, usually eight to ten thousand in number, by providing coffee and donuts in the Parish Center and an afternoon and evening fish fry for those coming later in the day.

The Seventy-Fifth Jubilee Booklet for Immaculata, published in 1934, contains this description of the Good Friday Pilgrimage: Promptly at midnight a steady stream of pilgrims begin wending their way to this shrine of the Immaculate Conception to make their annual pilgrimage of praying the steps. There are men, women and children, even babies in arms, in the massing. There are Catholics and non-Catholics all crowding together and making their way to the top of the stairs. On every step is said an Our Father and then a Hail Mary. Up the one hundred and eight steps the penitents proceed to a life sized crucifix (the Wayside Crucifix) on the outer wall of the Cincinnati Immaculata Church.

Suggested routes

  • From Downtown Cincinnati, OH
  • Head south on Walnut St toward E 6th St
  • Take the 1st right onto E 6th St
  • Take the 2nd right onto Vine St
  • Take the 2nd right onto E 7th St
  • Continue onto Gilbert Ave
  • Turn right at Elsinore Pl
  • Turn right at Elsinore Ave
  • Slight left to stay on Elsinore Ave
  • Take the 1st left onto Wareham Dr
  • Turn right at Paradrome St
  • Take the 1st right onto Louden St
  • Turn right at Hatch St
  • Take the 1st left onto St Gregory St
  • Turn left at Pavilion St
  • Take the 1st right onto Guido St
  • Destination will be on the left

Holy Cross Immaculata Church
30 Guido Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Ring the Bells

Join tradition to ring the bells of Holy Cross in Cincinnati Immaculata Church in memory of a loved one or a special occasion. Select a day or week that is personnaly significat to you , or a special Holy Day and know that our newly restored bells wil ring in honor of your request for the entire community to hear. The bells of Holy Cross-Immaculata ring the daily Angelus, the Call to Mass and special hymns wach day of the year.

Requests can be emailed to [email protected]t or call 513-721-6544 ext 10 for more information.

History of Cincinnati Immaculata Church and the First Mass

 

In the mid-nineteenth century, if a neighborhood wished to have a Catholic church, they did all the heavy lifting. They sought permission from the Archbishop to build the church, raised money, bought land, hired an architect and chose a contractor. The creation of the Immaculate Conception Church was quite different. Cincinnati Archbishop John B. Purcell donated the land, lime stone (which was quarried on Mt Adams) and, by some reports, $10,000 toward the construction of Immaculata. He hired the architects Louis Piket and Son (also architects for the second Mt. Adams Holy Cross church built in 1895) and the contractor, John Foley. Purcell made frequent visits to the building site to oversee construction.
Cincinnati Immaculata Church, architecturally described as simple gothic, was completed in November of 1860 and soon thereafter became known as the Archbishop’s Church. The first mass at Immaculata was celebrated on December 9, 1860, six years after Pope Pius the IX’s Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

 

Archbishop Purcell was present at the dedication and spoke for twenty minutes. Purcell began his remarks by repeating the Angel Gabriel’s salutation to the Virgin Mary: “‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.’” He continued, “These words were sent from Heaven, and uttered by that high functionary of Heaven’s King, the Angel Gabriel. No words more appropriate than these can be selected to proclaim the praises of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We have in humble trust upon her favor raised this monument to the Immaculate Conception, on the highest point overlooking our city, from the east, within our control.

The Seminary and Chapel of St. John the Baptist stand on higher ground, but they are not as visible along the line of the river as is this beautiful temple of Mary. Catholics in all ages of the world have been anxious, that every crowning hill and every beautiful valley shall be sanctified by the cross. All over Europe, Asia, Africa, and the New World, we find this Catholic idea carried out. Some may object that too much expense has been incurred in the erection of this building.

We do not think so; nothing can be too good for Mary. It is now six years since the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was promulgated by the Holy Father. From the earliest ages this belief has been held by the Catholic Church. In the fourth century it was commemorated by a festival under the name “Conception of St. Anne,” by which is meant the conception of Mary by her mother St. Ann.

Posted in North America and United States