Holy Thursday at Home: a Virtual Seven Churches Visitation

by | Apr 8, 2020 | Lent, Liturgical Year | 10 comments

The triduum is upon us! Let’s talk Holy Thursday. No, wait, for a Holy Thursday overview, see this post

The “You Can Still Do This” Guide to All Things Holy Week

Here, let’s talk about the Seven Churches Visitation.

Under normal circumstances, following the Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper, the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the tabernacle in the church, which is left open and empty. The Sacrament, in a temporary tabernacle or pyx, is placed on an Altar of Repose in a different location in the church or an adjacent chapel or other room for Adoration. It is traditional to recite the Tantum Ergo before the Altar of Repose.

From this practice arose the tradition to visit several churches to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in each church. It actually began with St. Philip Neri, who would organize his sixteenth century buddies on a walking tour of Rome to visit the city’s seven basilicas on the night of Holy Thursday!

There is a plenary indulgence available to the faithful for the recitation of the Tantum Ergo on Holy Thursday, before the altar of repose (Manual of Indulgences 7:2). Recently, an apostolic letter allows us to gain indulgences without fulfilling the usual conditions of confession and communion if we are prevented by the Coronavirus from doing so, provided we resolve to do so when possible. So this indulgence is available to us from home today, even if we don’t have access to Mass and confession.

Our Holy Thursday tradition has been (since our first try in 2013!) to do a modified Seven Churches Visitation during the day. Buuuuut . . . since all the churches in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are currently locked up tight under the COVID19 Coronavirus directives, what we usually do is not going to be possible this year.

Perhaps we’ll still get in the car and drive to seven churches, and stay outside. I think it would still be meaningful. But it also occurred to me that this might be a very good use for some of the virtual tours available for the world’s greatest Catholic churches. There are WAY more than seven available online, so if there’s one you’ve always wanted to see, hey, now’s your chance. But here are my suggestions.

1. St. Patrick’s Cathedral – New York City, NY

You can move the image around, and zoom in right here.

2. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart – Notre Dame, IN

See more 360 images here.

3. Basilica of St. Mary – Minneapolis, MN

Same as above for this 360 degree image.

4. Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Chartres – Chartres, France

Click here to go to the virtual tour.

5. La Sagrada Familia – Barcelona

6. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Washington D.C.

7. The Sistine Chapel – Vatican City

Click here to go to the virtual tour.

Poignant isn’t it? Seeing all these beautiful sanctuaries empty, just as they probably are as you read this . . . but just as we trust that after the triduum comes the resurrection, we have to trust that after the quarantine will come full, bustling churches once again!

Have a beautiful Triduum and a very blessed Easter.


If you have a recommendation for a virtual tour of a Catholic Church that I didn’t include, please put it in the comments!


  1. Sarah Wilson

    What a cool idea! Going to try this with my toddler this year (the physical visiting of churches with a stop each time to let him run around the building) during the day, but the virtual idea is so cool too! Thank you for putting out new ideas for this challenging time. God bless you and your family; happy holy week and Easter season!

    • CM Bookmark

      Check out Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica in Lackawanna, NY (just outside of Buffalo). It’s gorgeous!

  2. Luisa Price

    At the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes there’s a livestream (https://www.lourdes-france.org/en/tv-lourdes/) that allows a virtual visit to the Grotto to accompany the priests in prayer throughout the day – on non-Triduum days they have the Rosary in English at 9am Eastern (3pm local time in France – 6hrs ahead of Eastern Time in the US) and Mass in English at 11am Eastern (5pm local time in France).

    The Triduum schedule is here: https://www.lourdes-france.org/en/elementor-239797/
    They have daily Adoration with Benediction at 11:30am Eastern (5:30pm local time in France)!

    Happy Triduum!

  3. Rose

    Went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York last year. Breathtaking beautiful!

  4. Alice Ryan

    Aw, Kendra, thanks for Tantum Ergo. Gonna sing it all day.

  5. Barbara Ruiz

    This is a beautiful idea…. I will certainly do this tonight with my family… I have been visiting the 7 churches since I was a little girl, it was a tradition my parents and I have continued it as know an adult… I hope my girls will continue to continue with this tradition.. God bless you for making this possible virtually..

  6. laycistercians

    Holy Thursday, we’ve traditionally visited seven churches. But now it’s sad that there won’t be an opportunity for visitation/adoration this year. one of my favorite evenings of the year. Just to sit silently before the beautifully decorated altars of repose.

Submit a Comment

Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

If you’d like to learn more about what Catholics believe and why, and to be inspired by saints from every era all over the world, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of how to teach your kids about the faith in a way that’s true, engaging, and lasts a lifetime, we can help!

Contact me at helpdesk@catholicallyear.com

This blog contains affiliate links and sponsored posts, for which I receive a commission. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.