MIDLAND, ON (21 October 2022) – Today, Martyrs’ Shrine unveils its visitation numbers following a two year shut-down from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 75,000 people visited the holy and historic site in 2022 and has been applauded as a success both for Martyrs’ Shrine as a ministry of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) as well as local area tourism. These numbers fared better than expected following such a closure and the financial and social challenges facing families today.
Attendance this year fell almost 25% from 2019, exasperated by inflationary pressures, fuel costs, border travel restrictions, and continued issues with people’s willingness to gather in crowds. Several annual pilgrimage events were cancelled due to pandemic-related complications, but most went ahead as scheduled. These events can attract thousands of visitors per day and their economic impact ripples into our local community and supports many businesses hardest hit by the pandemic. “Overall, the attendance this year is an indication of people’s resilience in wake of what is happening in the world today and a sign of hope for things to come. We consider this to be a great healing year for the world having seen people of many faiths and backgrounds join together in prayer and sharing their experiences and their pains, much like the Martyrs’ themselves once did here on this site several centuries ago,” said Father Michael Knox, Director of the Martyrs’ Shrine.
Anticipating a pent-up demand from the faithful and day-trippers alike, Martyrs’ Shrine was able to resume all services this year which included a rich and diverse schedule of events including hosting the 2022 Annual Jesuit Conference with dignitaries arriving from across the continent.
Martyrs’ Shrine welcomed back an array of ethnocultural events including the popular Tamil, Vietnamese and Polish pilgrimages, as well as new events like the Ukrainian and Hispanic pilgrimages. These events serve a unique purpose providing spiritual enrichment as well as reinforcing a unique sense of community as many attendees are new immigrants to Canada or are coming in from other countries to visit family and friends. Hosting the world is something Martyrs’ Shrine is good at and it is with thanks to our community, benefactors, priests, volunteers and staff that this is possible.
In partnership with regional school boards and Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, Martyrs’ Shrine has resumed working with educators on engaging students and enhancing religious and historical education.
As well this year, Martyrs’ Shrine began offering permanent complimentary admission to the Indigenous community (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) as a part of its active reconciliation efforts. Several hundred community members took advantage of the program between May and October.
With momentum on their side, the team at Martyrs’ Shrine is now eagerly preparing for the 2023 season beginning Saturday, May 6th. Admission is free to all on opening day. For details, please visit www.martyrs-shrine.com.
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Martyrs’ Shrine, Canada’s early church, is a national holy and historic space honouring the lives of the Canadian Martyrs. The Shrine celebrates a nearly 400-year-old story of love and discovery that inspired and influenced the formation of Canada as we know it today. The Shrine is a ministry of the Jesuits of Canada. This ‘house of prayer, home of peace’ honours the Jesuit missionaries and their companions who lived, worked, and died here in the lands of the Wendat (Huron) back in the seventeenth century. Martyrs’ Shrine is located just outside of Midland, Ontario, in the Heart of Georgian Bay. Typically, more than 100,000 visitors from around the world visit the Shrine for prayer, healing and fellowship each year.