Discover the best of Oklahoma City during your pilgrimage or visit to the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine. This stunning and utterly unique destination brings travelers across the globe to OKC, where the surrounding metro areas offers countless opportunities for additional exploration.
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Born and raised in Okarche, Blessed Stanley Rother is the first U.S.-born priest and martyr to be beatified by the Catholic Church – the step before becoming a saint. Rother served as a missionary in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala for 13 years before his death on July 28, 1981. Pope Francis confirmed Rother died a martyr on December 1, 2016 and Rother was officially beatified over a year later in Oklahoma City.
Before his time in Guatemala, Rother served throughout Oklahoma – including Durant, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. In addition to life as a priest, Rother worked as a bookbinder, gardener and groundskeeper during seminary in San Antonio, Texas.
The Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine, dedicated and opened to the public in 2023, welcomes local and international visitors to South Oklahoma City to learn about Rother’s life and work. Plan your pilgrimage with these helpful tips about the Shrine’s expansive campus, as well as popular Oklahoma City attractions, eateries and stays you won’t want to miss.
Begin your journey at the Shrine’s Pilgrim Center, spanning 6,000-sq-ft and housing the Blessed Stanley Rother Museum and Gift Shop. Familiarize yourself with Blessed Stanley Rother’s life story and mission by watching a video documentary before viewing artifacts from each stage of his life. Guests will also find educational information about Rother’s martyrdom and beatification. Don’t forget to visit the on-site gift shop to commemorate your pilgrimage experience with art and other Shrine-exclusive items.
Continue your pilgrimage inside the Shrine Church & Chapel, a stately structure easily seen from I-35. The Shrine’s architectural style – Roman Baroque and Spanish Mission – reflects Blessed Stanley’s missionary church in Guatemala, Saint James the Apostle Catholic Church. The main church features over 2,000 seats for pilgrims and guests, while the back chapel will serve as the final resting place for Blessed Stanley Rother.
During your visit, you can also climb Tepeyac Hill – a recreation of the Mexico City site where Mary, otherwise known as the Lady of Guadalupe, appeared to Saint Juan Diego in 1531. At the top of the ascent, guests can admire painted bronze statues of Our Lady Guadalupe and Saint Juan Diego crafted by Mexico City-based artist, Georgina Farias Nicolopolus.
If you’re visiting Oklahoma City for the first time, you’re in for a surprising Great Plains treat. Home to a vast urban renaissance over the last few decades, Oklahoma’s capital city boasts an abundance of world-class attractions for any age or interest.
Explore many downtown sites with the aid of the Oklahoma City Streetcar – stops include the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, family-friendly activities throughout Bricktown, one of the world’s largest public collections of Dale Chihuly glass at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, a lush indoor paradise at Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory or the inviting urban green space of Scissortail Park.
Learn about the state’s Western and Native history during visits to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the First Americans Museum, showcasing an internationally-renowned collection of Western artifacts and the histories of the 39 distinctive First American Nations in Oklahoma, respectively.
Route 66 aficionados can snap photos at quirky Mother Road landmarks, such as the geodesic Gold Dome Building and iconic Milk Bottle Grocery along Uptown 23rd St., the Greco-Roman architecture at the Oklahoma State Capitol or the dazzling 66-ft LED POPS soda statue on the grounds of an old-fashioned diner and gas station.
Other exciting attractions include what USA Today named “Best Street Art in the Nation” found at locations like the Plaza District’s Plaza Walls Murals and many other spots around the city, over 20 art galleries in the Spanish-village style Paseo Arts District and thrilling fun in the Adventure District.
Oklahoma City’s food scene has quickly risen to become one of the top dining destinations in the United States. From fun brunch cafes, an array of international cuisine and award-winning upscale dinners, locals highly recommend the following restaurants...and with good reason.
Within five minutes of the Shrine is The Boxcar, offering locally-sourced craft coffee, pastries and breakfast bites to fuel your pilgrimage journey. Other convenient options include delicious Mexican food at The Lazy Donkey or authentic Thai curries from Panang Thai.
If you’re craving brunch, don’t skimp on Cheever’s Café’s famous chicken fried steak and elevated comfort food favorites. Additional local hot spots include refined regional dishes on the Jones Assembly’s spacious, industrial-chic indoor patio, or freshly-made bread and gourmet coffee in the beautifully-refurbished Chrysler showroom at Harvey Bakery & Kitchen.
Oklahoma City is also a multi-cultural haven featuring cuisine from around the world. Get in line early for the popular Latin brunch at Café Kacao or Café Antigua – voted “Best Latin” food in 2022 by Oklahoma Gazette’s annual readers poll – or gather a group for dim sum on the weekends at Grand House Asian Bistro.
Don’t leave Oklahoma City without treating yourself to an upscale dinner at one of the metro’s most notable restaurants. Savor a steak from the famous Cattlemen’s Steakhouse – one of the city’s oldest restaurants that has previously hosted a United States President or two. Spend your evening in grand style at Tellers inside the exquisitely renovated First National Center, or enjoy Latin-inspired recipes and award-winning cocktails at FRIDA Southwest – a 2023 James Beard semifinalist in the “Outstanding Beverage Program” category.
Discover more dining options in the surrounding Oklahoma City metro here.
When searching for a place to stay during your pilgrimage, check this list for hotels offering special discounts to Shrine pilgrims.
Curious about exploring more of Blessed Stanley Rother’s past? Extend your pilgrimage by adding a road trip to Rother’s nearby hometown of Okarche and other cities Rother served in like Durant and Downtown Tulsa.