Shrine of the Blessed Mother: Our Lady of the Parkway

By Wyatt Krater

December 2019

Altar used for Mass behind the shrine as well as a closer look at some of the crosses.
Altar used for Mass behind the shrine as well as a closer look at some of the crosses.

The Shrine of the Blessed Mother, also known somewhat humorously as Our Lady of the Parkway, is an example of Pittsburgh’s unique amalgamation of cultures. Located in the far corner of South Oakland, the shrine sits peacefully at the end of Wakefield Street. It is in a wooded grotto, perched on a cliffside precariously over the noisy I-376. Despite the loud traffic, this tranquil hideaway is meticulously well kept by the neighborhood’s inhabitants. The shrine has comfortable spots to pray, an altar for the occasional Mass, and large wooden crosses. Though a definitive legend of its founding has been lost to history, stories of visions, finding a crucifix, and other miracles have been common since the shrine was built in the 1950s.

The concept of small shrines in backyards or on streets is nothing new. Pittsburgh’s Italian American Catholics have long used shrines and idols as a way of bringing the sacred a little bit closer to home––to protect and insulate from the sometimes less serene moments in everyday life. The shrine in South Oakland is an extension of this belief. It is a place for religious folks in South Oakland to go to when in need of a reprieve.

Further Reading

Orsi, Robert. The Madonna of 115th Street Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950 . 3rd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.

Secret Pittsburgh Literature Class of University of Pittsburgh. “Shrine of the Sacred Mother.” Secret Pittsburgh Guide, 4 December 2015. https://secretpittsburgh.pitt.edu/index.php/node/561

Walcoff, Matt. “Traffic Noise Doesn’t Interrupt Serenity of Neighborhood Shrine.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 31 August 1998, 15.

How to Cite 

MLA: Krater, Wyatt. “Shrine of the Blessed Mother: Our Lady of the Parkway.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, 22 Jan. 2020, https://religyinz.wordpress.com/2020/01/22/shrine-of-the-blessed-mother-our-lady-of-the-parkway/.

APA: Krater, Wyatt. (2020, 22 January). Shrine of the blessed mother: Our lady of the parkway. ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh. https://religyinz.wordpress.com/2020/01/22/shrine-of-the-blessed-mother-our-lady-of-the-parkway/.

Chicago: Krater, Wyatt. “Shrine of the Blessed Mother: Our Lady of the Parkway.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, January 22, 2020. https://religyinz.wordpress.com/2020/01/22/shrine-of-the-blessed-mother-our-lady-of-the-parkway/.

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