Franciscan Shrine - Skiff Lake, NB


Every year on the second Sunday in August, hundreds of catholics from all over North America make their way to the Historic Shrine at Skiff Lake, in Canterbury County, New Brunswick.

A Brief History:
A piece of land along the Skiff Lake Road was deeded by Daniel McGillicuddy to the Bishop of St. John in August of 1876. It was adjacent to a parcel of land also deeded to the Church by Dennis Donovan in July of 1876. It is believed the little church was erected about 15 years prior to that date by the Irish settlers of the area under the direction of Fr. Thomas Connolly who was the priest in Woodstock at that time. It was built near the portage route used by the Maliseets to travel from the St. John to the St. Croix river systems and the Franciscan priests undoubtedly welcomed many of the Maliseets at their Masses. The church was known as St. Joseph's Church until 1923 when Very Reverend Dean MacLaughlin established it as a shrine to St. Francis of Assisi in honour of the French missionaries, Franciscan Recollettes, who built the first Catholic Church in New Brunswick at nearby Fort Meductic.

It is not a large cathedral and one, not understanding the mindset of Franciscans, could wonder what the real attraction is. It is small. It is humble. It says more about sacred ground than grandeur. There is a peace and serenity about the place that is not as easily found in more majestic cathedrals. Those who love Skiff Lake do not go there in search of priceless art, or ornate ornaments... they go to the little shrine to be one with God in the same humble surroundings in which St. Francis himself met our Lord and Saviour every day... that natural world, just as God created it to be.

Skiff Lake has become widely know as a place of deep spirituality, miracles and healing. In 1999, the shrine was designated a National Historic Site, and was also declared a Jubilee Pilgrimage Site.


Visiting Skiff Lake is like a breath of fresh air to the soul. The peace and tranquility of the place is remarkable. Joanne Collicott McGuigan describes the feeling.

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