Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics2291 Saint John's Road
Maria Stein, Ohio 45860 45860
419-925-4532 | mariasteinshrine.org
Holy and Sanctified in Western Ohio
The first permanent Motherhouse in the United States, the Maria Stein Convent stewards a large, significant collection of holy relics.
In 1844, three Sisters of the Precious Blood arrived in Ohio and established a convent near St. Johns. The convent was named for the Mariastein Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Switzerland, and is translated as “Mary of the Rock.” In time, the town adopted the name, as well.
Built in 1846, the Maria Stein Convent was the first permanent motherhouse in the United States. By the end of the nineteenth century it housed over sixty nuns who practiced a semi-monastic life of prayer and service to the larger community outside the convent. Along with Father Francis de Sales Brunner, the Sisters helped establish parishes, schools, and other convents throughout the region. The Maria Stein Convent included a chapel where the sisters practiced perpetual adoration of the Eucharist.
A second chapel was built in 1882 to house a growing collection of holy relics and to accommodate public veneration by visitors. Now the second largest collection in the United States, the Shrine Chapel includes more than 1,100 relics of the Apostles, the True Cross, early martyrs, and more than 800 saints. Just as heirlooms or photo albums connect individuals with memories and family history, in the Catholic tradition relics connect believers with the history of those who carried on the faith. In the Shrine Chapel, most of the relics are deemed first class – meaning the relic is the bodily remains of a saint or an item directly associated with the life of Jesus.
The property remained in use as a convent until 1923 when the Sisters moved to Dayton. The Shrine is now operated by a nonprofit organization as a place of retreat, contemplation, and liturgical history.
On the second floor of the convent, the Heritage Museum offers displays about the origins of the Missionaries and Sisters of the Precious Blood, their journey to America, and their religious practice. Several exhibits offer details of the Sisters’ work making vestments for priests, shoes, wax figures and statues, lacemaking and other needlework symbolizing their devotions. A gallery on the third floor offers rotating exhibits.
Notes for Travellers
A visit to the National Shrine of the Holy Relics might last the better part of a day. The chapels and grounds offer respite and sanctuary from the hectic pace of modern living. Do take time to visit the Heritage Museum for an understanding of the Convent’s mission to the surrounding communities. The shrine includes a large gift shop for books, devotionals, prayer cards, and keepsakes.
Additional ResourcesCatholic Church Tours: Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches, Nick Heyob, 2017.
The Work of Their Hands: An Account of the Work of CPPS Artists and Artisans in the Early History of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Ohio, Cordelia Gast, 2002.