Pope should visit upstate shrine

Pope Francis should take a look next year at an upstate New York site closely connected to four saints.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in the Mohawk Valley expects to soon invite the pope to visit the site during his planned 2015 visit to Philadelphia and New York. The trip would be Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States. Given the responsibilities of the holy father, it is probably too much to expect him to visit our nation too often.

While some may think Auriesville, in Montgomery County, is too small, it has a lot of great, relevant history for the Catholic Church. Three missionaries – St. Father Isaac Jogues, St. Rene Goupil and St. John Lalande – were martyred at the site of the shrine in the 1640s.

Of course, the site is also associated with St. Kateri Tekakwitha, who was born in Auriesville and died in 1680 in Kahnawake, Quebec, near Montreal, at age 24. She became the first Native American saint in 2012. There is a separate shrine to her in Fonda, 6 miles west of Auriesville.

We are confident that Catholics and other people throughout upstate would warmly receive Pope Francis. He has become known and appreciated for his humble, respectful manner, demonstrated to people of all faiths. He’s an inspirational role model, no matter what your religious beliefs are.

His visit also would draw positive attention to a site that is working on making sure it can continue to properly welcome visitors for years to come. While the threat of closure has been eliminated, the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs is still looking to raise more money for repairs. It has raised about $250,000 but is looking to bring in $1 million total for further work.

The pope would receive larger crowds in Philadelphia and New York City, but few audiences would appreciate his visit more than the one at the shrine.