The Friars’ founder, Servant of God, Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, said Graymoor was “God-given” and “God-built” and he loved to share its beauty with pilgrims. Throughout the years, thousands of pilgrims would come to visit and especially to celebrate St. Anthony’s Feast Day in June. Each year, a temporary shrine to St. Anthony would be erected. It became Fr. Paul’s dream to have a permanent magnificent shrine built at Graymoor to honor St. Anthony of Padua, the “wonder-worker”.
Throughout his life, Fr. Paul continued to dream of the Shrine, but it was not until the 20th anniversary of his death that his dream became a reality. Erected in 1960, Graymoor’s St. Anthony Shrine is three stories tall and constructed of granite and fieldstone. It is the largest outdoor Shrine to St. Anthony in the United States.
An Alpha and Omega Altar was constructed of granite found on the Holy Mountain by the men of St. Christopher’s Inn and installed at the Shrine in 1932, where it remained until a fire from candles at the base of the Shrine damaged the 20’ tall statue in 2007. The marble was charred and candle wax marred the surface in huge wax puddles. Benefactors responded generously to help restore the beloved Shrine and the altar was returned when the Shrine was re-dedicated in 2010 on its 50th anniversary.
In 2015, the St. Anthony Prayer Walkway was added so the faithful could share their expressions of love, hope and thanks by placing a commemorative brick “at the feet of St. Anthony on the Holy Mountain of Graymoor.”
Today, pilgrims continue to come each year to share in St. Anthony feast day celebrations and to enjoy Fr. Paul’s dream.