History of the Shrine
“Mt. Airy” is the familiar name for the National Shrine of St. Anthony and Friary sitting on a hill above Cincinnati. The shrine had its start in the late 1880s, when Joseph and Elizabeth Nurre bought what was then a country estate for $18,000 and gave it to the Franciscan friars.
The cornerstone was laid and blessed in August, 1888. The friars moved into the original house two months later and a little more than a year later, on Thanksgiving Day 1889, Archbishop Henry Elder of Cincinnati consecrated the chapel. The building’s north wing was to house the novices and the south housed the professed friars.
Father Jerome Kilgenstein, Provincial Minister at the time, obtained furnishings for the chapel from France, Belgium, Bavaria, Holland and the Austrian province of Tyrol, the home of the early friars of the Cincinnati province. Originally the chapel had eight side altars. Over the high altar were two large paintings depicting scenes from the life of St. Anthony. The paintings were covered over when the chapel was redecorated in 1978.
A group of novices, who had been invested with the Franciscan habit at Holy Family Friary in Oldenburg, Indiana, came to Mt. Airy in the first week of 1890. The first investitures at Mt. Airy took place August 15, 1890—on the feast of the Assumption, which became a traditional date for many years.
Nearly a thousand young men formally entered the Order at Mt. Airy between 1890 and 1967, to spend one year laying the foundation for their lives as Franciscans. Not all of these novices ended up professing vows in the order: one purpose of the novitiate is to discern God’s call.
Today, the St Anthony Shrine and Friary is home to 11 friars.
Mt. Airy holds a special place in the hearts of friars and friends. Vocation decisions made by novices affected the course of the Cincinnati province. The Shrine remains a place of peace, hope and communion with God and nature. It has been an inspiration and channel of God’s grace for over a century. May it be the same for another century and beyond.
St. Anthony Friary and Shrine
5000 Colerain Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45223
Catholic Mass and Devotions Schedule
Mass: Sunday 10:00 am, Monday – Friday 7:30 am, Saturday 8:15 am
Tuesday Novena: 2:30 Prayers and Benediction, 7:00 pm Mass
At the back of the chapel, the shrine features a first-class relic of St. Anthony. The relic is visible at the base of the St. Anthony statue. First-class relics are parts of the body or bones of a saint, while second-class relics are objects that were used by or associated with a saint (or somehow with the Lord). A third-class relic is a piece of cloth or something that has been touched to a first- or second-class relic.
The grounds surrounding the St. Anthony Shrine are a serene and peaceful place for a walk or quiet contemplation. There is a small outdoor shrine with statues of St. Anthony, St. Francis and Our Lady of Guadalupe, all of them surrounded by candles. The field next to the shrine includes an outdoor cross, and there are other Roman Catholic statues throughout the grounds. Visitors to the shrine are welcome to walk the grounds and enjoy their natural beauty.