Travels with Pickles


Posted 15 July 2017

The Basilica of St. Mary and the Swiss Guard Exhibit


Wednesday we went to The Basilica of Saint Mary in downtown Minneapolis.  We went to view The Life of a Swiss Guard exhibit specifically and to visit the Basilica in general.


A couple of quick logistic tips first.  The Basilica is located in bustling downtown Minneapolis immediately adjacent to I-94 which is currently under construction and traffic is a mess as a result.  Parking during the week is challenging.  There is parking via permit under the freeway, visitors can utilize the parking garage at Minneapolis Community and Technical College but it isn’t high profile vehicle friendly.  There is street parking available, $2 for two hours.  We did learn that you can park along the street within the Basilica grounds without a permit despite the posted signs from Kathy Dhaemers, Associate Director of Sacred Arts.


For the non-Catholic readers of the blog who may be wondering what differentiates a church from a basilica, simplest explanation is that a basilica is a Catholic Church with special designation from a Pope.  In this case, in 1926 Pope Pius XI elevated the Cathedral to that of a minor basilica.  It was the first basilica in the United States and the became known by it’s current name of The Basilica of St. Mary.


The inside of the Basilica is very reminiscent of Catholic Churches built in the Twentieth Century.  Soaring ceilings, beautiful stained glass, wooden pews, and an alter above the congregation.  In ever sense of the phrase, this a “high church” example of architecture and reverence.  The artwork in beautiful but subdued.  The statuary reminds the parishioner that they are in a Church and not a stadium meant to hold a thousand people.


The Exhibit: A Day in the Life of the Swiss Guard was a collection of photographs and some artifacts.  The photographs were quite stunning, showing the everyday life of what it means to be a member of the Swiss Guard.  It is far more than a fancy uniform standing guard at the Vatican.  Every member of the Swiss Guard is a practicing Roman Catholic and a member of the Swiss military.  These dedicated men are the equivalent of the U.S. Secret Service.  They are the personal bodyguards of the Pontificate and don’t ever let their brightly colored, ceremonial uniforms fool you into thinking differently.

DSC_0031  I loved this photo.  It was one of several with young boys slipping on parts of their father’s uniform. You can clearly see his fascination and reverence in this photo.

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The exhibit wasn’t overly large but it provided a wonderful glimpse into the Swiss Guard.  When we spoke with Kathy, she said that they have exhibits at the Basilica on a regular basis.

As we left the Basilica we strolled the hallways and then through the grounds on the way back to truck.  The huge oaks make the lawn shady on a warm and humid summer’s afternoon.  On our way out, we ran across this original architecture drawing on linen for the basilica.  It is a beautifully preserved piece of history.

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If you are visiting the Minneapolis area and don’t mind a wee bit of traffic congestion, then please schedule a visit to the Basilica of Saint Mary.  The quiet beauty of the Basilica makes the hustle and noise of the city fade away.  The staff is friendly, helpful, and eager to answer any and all inquiries.



Posted 25 June 2017

The Surprise New Tab – Catholic


Recently the subject arose in one of the RV Facebook groups wondering if anyone knew of or maintained a RV group for Catholics, Roaming RV Catholics.  No one knew of one and so I volunteered to establish one.  The purpose of the group is to allow those in the RV community to share those Catholic spots they discover on their travels with others.

The above photo is of St. Christopher, Patron Saint of Travelers, who hangs in the front window of The Gump.  He was sourced and installed after we broke the window in Wyoming last Fall.  Now, he always looks in on us as we live our lives and The Gump as we travel down the road.

We are currently in a small town in NE Central Minnesota and within two hours of where we are there are a multitude of Catholic shrines and one Basilica.  They are on our agenda to visit now that we unexpectedly have a little more time on our hands than we anticipated having.

I thought I would include this information on the blog because not everyone uses Facebook or is comfortable jumping into a group on Facebook.  If you have suggestions please feel free to drop us a line.  Feel free to join us on Facebook, and no group membership isn’t limited to those RV’ers that full time.