The Maria Stein Shrine of Holy Relics is the second largest collection of relics in the United Sates. It was founded in 1875 by father J. M. Gartner who entrusted his collection of relics to the Sisters at Maria Stein.
When news of the relics spread, pilgrims began to arrive by the hundreds to venerate them, and there was a need for a larger convent. In 1892, two chapels were dedicated to the relics: the adoration chapel, and the relic chapel. With 1,100 relics - of which 95 percent are “first class relics” (from the body of the saint, usually part of a bone) - the Maria Stein Convent was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The convent includes second class relics (clothes and items that the saint used), and third class relics ( things that a saint touched) as well. In addition to the permanent holy relics display, the shrine features a diverse store of expositions, which change annually and may include exhibits of the homes of the region, lace making, presentations by local artists and craftspeople, and a quilt collection.
Down a path from the main buildings of the shrine is a tiny church referred to as the “Chapel in the Woods,” in which there is an altar, edged by angel-shaped lamps, depicting the damned writhing in flames. For over a century Maria Stein Shrine has been the destination of devout pilgrims who have come by the thousands from all over the world.