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Marian Shrines

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

AACHEN (shrine)

Sanctuary built by Charlemagne at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen), forty miles southwest of Cologne, where Charlemagne died in A.D. 814. A chapel in the main cathedral of Aachen houses four major relics believed to be from biblical times. They were never exhibited before the fourteenth century and since then only infrequently. They are the swaddling clothes of the Infant Jesus; the cloak of Our Lady; the loin cloth of Christ on the Cross; and the cloth on which lay the head of John the Baptist after his beheading. The separate reliquaries containing them are in themselves works of art. Great pilgrimages flock to Aachen to venerate these treasures in July of every seventh year, when they are on exhibition.

ABSAM (shrine)

Marian sanctuary in the Austrian Tyrol. In January 1797 an eighteen-year-old native girl had a premonition that her father had met with an accident in the salt mines where he worked. In her anxiety she looked out the window and saw the face of the Virgin Mary appearing on the window glass. Her father reported a serious accident at the mine that afternoon but he was unhurt. The glass panel was removed, washed, and scraped in an attempt to remove the image, but all attempts to obliterate the image failed. The cherished glass was placed in a small chapel nearby, and six candles are always burning before the picture, which has become a place of pilgrimage.


Ancient shrine at Algiers, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. It was originally a small statue of the Madonna, set in a frame of shells at a spot often visited by Barbary robbers. Fishermen came there to pray for safe voyages. In time, the grotto became a chapel and eventually a large church. A great miracle made the revered chapel even better known. Archbishop Lavigerie of Algiers was on his way to Rome accompanied by seven hundred soldiers, priests, and a Trappist abbot when their ship was caught in a violent storm. The crew despaired of the ship's safety. The archbishop had promised the Mother of God a pilgrimage to the shrine of "Our Lady of Africa" if she would save them. The ship was saved and the promise was kept. In 1872 an impressive cathedral was consecrated and now houses the crowned statue of Mary. Pope Pius IX donated the golden diadem with precious stones that Mary, "Consolation of the Afflicted," now wears. At the shrine there are as many Moslem pilgrims as Christian. To the faithful Moslem she is "Lala Meriem," who bestows her favors. The Holy See has entrusted the care of the sanctuary to the congregation of White Sisters of Africa.

ALTÖTTING (shrine)

An ancient pilgrimage center in the heart of Bavaria; its original shrine has never been destroyed. One of the richest sanctuaries in the world. It is the site where, in 680, St. Rupert baptized Otto the pagan in a temple built in pre-Christian times. It is now a Catholic chapel to which the people make pilgrimage from May until November to venerate Our Lady and her Son. The larger church built around the first octagonal chapel has been enlarged repeatedly for the crowds that come and need accommodation. The center of attention is an ancient wooden statue of Mary and her Son. They are robed in heavily embroidered white and black mantles. On Good Friday both are draped with black veils. Mother and Child wear costly crowns, and she holds a scepter of jeweled lilies. The walls around the statue and the altar are nearly all of solid silver. The many lamps that burn constantly in thanksgiving for the miraculous cures and favors received here have so blackened the faces of the statue that Mary is often referred to as the Smiling Black Madonna of Altötting. Pope Pius IX’s special lamp still burns before Mary’s statue as he requested. This shrine has long been considered the heart of Catholic Marian devotion in Southern Germany.

ANDACOLLO (shrine)

The national sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary in Chile. Devotion at the shrine grew up around the three-foot cedar statue of the Madonna and Child. It is said that the Spaniards brought the statue with them when they discovered Chile in the sixteenth century. Nearby Indians revolted and killed the newcomers and the statue disappeared. Many years later the Spaniards returned and converted the Indians. One of them, named Collo, cutting trees in the mountains, found the discarded statue after his ax blade had hit it and he had heard a voice say, "You are hurting me." He took the wooden image home. Later a shrine was made and people came for devotions to pray to the Virgin, who still bears the scars of the ax. A privileged citizen is appointed at the annual celebration, December 24, 25, 26, to make a public apology to the Virgin Queen in Collo's name for the injury his ax caused her. It symbolizes the people's sorrow for their sins.


A church and shrine of the Blessed Virgin on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, one of the most ancient sites in the city's three thousand years of history. Atop one of the Capitoline stairways of one hundred twenty-four marble steps, a votive offering for Rome's deliverance from the black plague, is the church of Ara Coeli. It was built in the seventh century. One of its side chapels, dedicated to St. Helena (255-330), is where Emperor Augustus is said to have had a vision of a beautiful lady standing on the altar of heaven, hence the church's name. The church's most cherished possession is an olive wood statue of the Christ Child brought from the Holy Land during the sixteenth century. The base of the ornately decorated statue is covered with votive offerings of gratitude from all parts of the world, thanking the Bambino for his favors. In extreme cases of illness the cherished image is taken by private car, attended by two Franciscans, to the sick patient hoping for a miraculous recovery.


The shrine of Our Lady of the Poor, near the city of Liège in the Flemish village of Banneux. Devotion to Mary began as a result of an apparition to a poor twelve-year-old Belgian child in the garden of her home on January 16, 1933. Our Lady told her that she had come to relieve the ills and sufferings of the poor of all nations. A painting on the wall of the village's chapel made according to the child's description shows Mary robed in white with a blue sash and with a rosary over her right arm. On January 18, 1933, the child's father, an avowed atheist, accompanied his daughter to the garden, and although he did not see the Virgin he was instantly converted, overwhelmed in the presence of an unseen power. After years of investigation, the Holy See authorized public devotion to Our Lady of Banneux, patroness of the poor, in 1942. Formal approval was given by the Bishop of Liège in 1949, and a statue of that title was solemnly crowned in 1956. Pilgrims from many countries came to worship at the shrine. Over one hundred shrines throughout the world are dedicated to Our Lady of Banneux.


World famous shrine to the mother of the Blessed Virgin in Quebec, Canada. Its origins are dated from the reported miraculous cure of the cripple Louis Grimont, March 16, 1658. The small chapel was gradually enlarged, and the present structure was declared a minor basilica in 1888. In the north transept of the church is a golden reliquary containing an authenticated wristbone of St. Anne. Many miracles are reported annually, with thousands of pilgrims praying there the year round, but especially on July 26, the feast day of the saint.

BEAURAING (shrine)

Scene of the apparition of the Immaculate Virgin. She revealed herself to five Belgian children aged nine to fifteen years on thirty-three occasions in the small village of Beauraing in the Vallon part of Belgium. On November 29, 1932, the children walking over the railway viaduct saw a lady with arms outstretched dressed in white, veiled with a crown of golden rays around her head and a golden heart on her breast. In a later apparition she admonished the children to always be good. On January 1, 1933, at her last appearance she told the oldest boy, "If you love my Son and me, sacrifice yourself for me." At first all public recognition in the way of processions was forbidden. Ten years of investigation followed. Numerous miracles were reported by those who had visited the shrine by then built to honor Mary and who had been cured. Finally, on July 2, 1949, Bishop Charue of Namur authorized public devotion to "Our Lady of Beauraing."


A shrine at Cagliari, Sardinia, dedicated to the Queen of All Sailors. According to tradition, Cagliari had been a malaria-infested region. An old monk foretold that the name of the city would be changed to Bon-aria instead of "bad-air," the designation it then had. The prophecy was fulfilled on March 25, 1370, when a ship laden with merchandise ran ashore in a hurricane. Its jettisoned cargo included a heavy chest now preserved in the cathedral sanctuary. When the chest touched the sea, the storm abated; though heavy, it did not sink but drifted ashore near the church, where the priests found that it contained a beautiful figure of Our Lady carrying the Infant. The Child holds a ball in his left hand and reaches out to grasp a candle standing on a ship model held by his mother. It accurately records the wind's direction though it is in a draftless room. Our Lady of Bonaria was proclaimed patroness of Sardinia by Pope Pius X, and the unfinished church was later raised to the rank of minor basilica by Pius XI. On April 24, 1970, Pope Paul VI visited this famous shrine and celebrated an open-air Mass addressing the pilgrims on the need of veneration of the Mother of God.


A shrine of Our Lady of the Angels in Costa Rica, near the foot of Mount Irazú. In 1635 a young Negro girl found a small black stone statue of Our Lady and the Holy Child in the woods near Cartago. She took it home with her but it returned by itself to where she had found it. After several futile attempts to keep it, she took the statue to the village priest, who tried hiding it, but to no avail. It was always found back in the woods. The Negroes nearby built a little chapel to house their treasured Mother and Child on the spot that she herself had chosen to stay. In time it became a famous place of pilgrimage for all of Costa Rica. The image of the black Madonna, gaily dressed with Jesus, was solemnly crowned in 1927.


Shrine in the cemetery of St. Priscilla in Rome. Beneath the basilica of St. Sylvester and above the cemetery is a fresco painting of the Blessed Virgin holding the Child Jesus on her knee. It is considered one of the first images of the Madonna, dating from about A.D. 170. Though the colors have faded and the features are blurred, it is a witness to the Church's ancient devotion to Mary. The figure standing at her left is most likely the prophet Isaiah, who foretold the Virginal conception of the Messiah.


The most admired of all the French cathedrals, situated in the flat country of Beauce, forty-eight miles southwest of Paris. It is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. In the upper church is the chapel of Our Lady of the Pillar and in the lower church one honoring “Virgini Pariturae,” at which it is said the Druids paid honor to the seated virgin with a child on her knees, in the small grotto that enclosed her. Early in A.D. 300 a Christian church was built over that grotto. In 1195 the present cathedral was begun and was finally completed in A.D. 1250. The stained-glass jeweled windows represent in detail the life and perfections of Mary, Virgin and Mother. Chartres also has Mary's own veil to show pilgrims, contained in a magnificent reliquary. This relic belonged to Charlemagne (742-814), who had it transferred from Aachen to Chartres in 876. The second outstanding relic of Chartres is the statue of the Black Virgin, the "Notre Dame-du-Pilier" in the upper church, the Mother holding her Infant Son on the left while her right hand holds a gold scepter. The niche that holds them is filled with token hearts of gold, offerings for the cures wrought over the centuries through Mary's intercession.


A Marian sanctuary in the village of Tong Lu near Peiping. In 1900 the village was attacked by about ten thousand rioters during the Boxer Rebellion. In their rage they started to shoot skyward where a woman dressed in white had appeared, but her apparition did not fade. The crazed mob was put to flight at the appearance of a strange horseman. Father Wu, a Chinese priest, admitted having prayed to Mary for help. A church was built on the site, honoring a picture of Mary and the Christ Child which was placed over the main altar. During the progress of the Red Revolution, the people had the treasured painting copied, and when the Chinese Communists destroyed the Tong Lu church the copy was burned. But the original picture known as Our Lady of China had been hidden and is now thought to be in the possession of some faithful priests living in disguise.


A shrine at Carey, Ohio, dating from 1868, when a replica of the statue of "Our Lady of Consolation" in Luxembourg was made and brought to the parish rectory at Berwick, Ohio. Over one thousand people gathered for a solemn procession. Singing hymns, they carried the statue seven miles to the church at Carey. Reliable accounts state that none of the pilgrims were touched by the sudden downpour of rain that fell that day. In 1907 the present site was selected, and two years later the crypt of the new church was completed. Dedicated in 1925 by Bishop Stritch of the Toledo diocese, this Marian sanctuary has become a basilica and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. The Conventual Franciscans are in charge of the shrine, which is annually visited by thousands. Numerous ex-votos testify to the many cures reported by the pilgrims.


A shrine to the "Virgin of the Battles" in the mountain region of Asturias, Spain. A national Marian place of pilgrimage. It is on the site of a historic defeat of the Moslems in 718, when their army was destroyed by a landslide while the Christian soldiers took refuge in a cave that had long been a hermitage sanctuaryof Our Lady. The statue venerated there is considered an extraordinary work of art.


Shrine of "Mary Comforter of the Afflicted" in Romania near the Transylvanian Alps. Csiksomlyo was settled by Franciscans, and the Church there dates back to the fourteenth century. The origin of the revered carved wooden statue of Our Lady is disputed. Some think she is a folk production of the native Szeklers. In the middle centuries the people, to house their statue, built an impressive Gothic cathedral, later enlarged by Baroque and Byzantine additions. Mary was working her miracles at this shrine as early as the sixteenth century. The church was burned, the worshipers were attacked, the image was mutilated, but always the shrine remained intact. Mary's crowned head is surrounded by an aureole of golden rays studded with jeweled stars. She stands upon the crescent moon. In time the church was made a basilica and enlarged to accommodate the crowds of pilgrims.


Shrine of the Black Madonna, also called Our Lady of Jasna Gora, chief Marian sanctuary of Poland. There is a legend that the picture of Our Lady and her Son at the shrine was painted by St. Luke on a tabletop made by Jesus himself when he was an apprentice carpenter to St. Joseph. Hidden during the early persecutions, it was brought by St. Helena (255-330) to Constantinople. In the troubled eighth century it was stealthily taken from that city to a forest in Eastern Poland. From there it was removed to Częstochowa. In 1430 a great Gothic cathedral was built around the precious relic, but in the war with the Hussites they stole the picture. When their horses refused to move their cargo beyond the village boundaries, they threw the picture by the roadside, where it lay broken. All attempts to repair the damage have failed. In the next three hundred years the Polish people believed that their welfare was identified with this miraculous picture. When the Turks were at the gates of Vienna, Sobieski (1624-96), the Polish king, dedicated his crusade to Mary, and the West was saved. Under Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) the people came secretly on their pilgrimages to Częstochowa, and in 1945, at the end of World War II, they came 500,000 strong to thank Mary for their liberation. In 1947 over 1,500,000 came there to beg Mary to save them from Communism. Public pilgrimages to Częstochowa are forbidden, but the shrine is still unharmed.


A Roman shrine on the Via Ardeatina. The sanctuary to Mary and her Divine Child was built in the mid-sixteenth century, but the image itself dates from the early fourteenth. Pilgrims and native Romans by the thousands prayed there as World War II tension mounted. Fearful for their treasured mural, the population had it removed thirteen miles away from the active fighting to the church of St. Ignatius. Pope Pius XII had Rome placed under the special protection of Our Lady of Divine Love during the war, and when hostilities ceased he declared her to have been the real savior of Rome. After the war the image was replaced in its original sanctuary.


Feast of the Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Byzantine name for the Assumption, and the title of the famous Benedictine church on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. (Etym. Latin dormitio, a sleeping; from dormire, to sleep.)


Marian shrine in the Benedictine Abbey chapel at Einsiedeln in Switzerland. A Brother Meinrad, in 840, retired from the Benedictine monastery at Reichenau to the forest nearby, hoping to lead a more austere life. He took with him a small statue of Mary and her Son, and his cell became Our Lady's small chapel. This simple statue showed the Christ Child resting on his mother's left arm, while his little hand is raised in blessing. Twenty-three years later the old monk was murdered by bandits who thought he had hidden gold and treasure in his mountain hideout. Through the years the monk's former cell was the scene of many unusual favors and graces. It was enclosed later in a large church where it became a shrine to "Our Lady of the Hermits," as she was called. The statue is now enthroned in the abbey's splendid Chapel of Grace. Brother Meinrad has since been canonized.


Site of the most popular Marian sanctuary in Spain, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Blessed Virgin is here referred to as the "Powerful Lady of Silence." The shrine statue of Our Lady with the Infant was sent by Pope St. Gregory I to St. Leander (550-600) in Spain before the Moorish conquest. To save it from capture by the enemy, it was buried in a cave together with papers telling of its origin and to whom it belonged. Centuries passed before it was unearthed in 1326 by a cowherd who said a lovely lady had appeared to him and told him where to dig for treasure. The statue he found was made of Oriental wood, unharmed by its years of underground burial. A chapel was built to house the image. Although Estremadura is almost inaccessible to travelers, the shrine has been visited by thousands of all classes including royalty. Mary possesses a vast and costly wardrobe and some of the finest altar vestments and jewels are in the shrine's treasury. The cult of Guadalupe was at its height when Mexico's Spanish missionaries were inspired to spread her devotion in the New World, so the great American shrine to Our Lady honors her under the same title.

Our Lady of EuropeEUROPE, OUR LADY OF

Devotion to Our Lady of Europe started over 700 years ago, when after finally pushing back to Africa the Moslem troops that had occupied Southern Europe for centuries, the Castillian King Ferdinand IV, in thanksgiving, dedicated the Continent of Europe to the care and protection of our Blessed Lady and gave her the title OUR LADY OF EUROPE. The small mosque at Gibraltar was converted into a Christian Chapel which houses the statue of Our Lady of Europe. History tells us that the feast of Our Lady of Europe in Gibraltar was celebrated on 15th August from time immemorial. In 1979 European countries were exerting serious efforts to create greater unity in all spheres of life,so much so,that 5th May was celebrated as Europe Day. Bishop Rapallo petitioned Rome for the transfer of the feast day of Our Lady of Europe to coincide with "Europe Day". Rome replied in the affirmative and since then the Feast of Our Lady of Europe has been solemnised on May 5th.

(Added to the Marian Shrines list 9-27-2011)

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Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the mountain region of central Portugal near Cova da Iria. It was the scene of six apparitions of Our Lady, from May 13 to October 13, 1917, to three peasant children, Lucia Santos, Jacinta Marto, and her brother Francisco. During the apparitions Mary told the children to have processions in honor of her Immaculate Conception and to tell the faithful to do penance and pray the Rosary because otherwise the world would be chastised for its sins. During the October apparition seventy thousand people witnessed a spectacular solar phenomenon. In 1930 the bishops of Portugal declared the apparitions to be authentic, and in 1942 Pope Pius XII, in response to Mary's request, consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1967 Pope Paul VI personally visited and worshiped at the shrine on the fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions.


A shrine church to Our Lady and St. Thomas of Canterbury, near Lyons, France. A basilica, crowning the hill at Fourvières, was built in thanksgiving to God for preserving the city of Lyons from invasion in the Prussian War of 1870, but it is the old sanctuary close by that is of greater interest. This very old church dedicated to Our Lady consists of just two aisles. During its reconstruction in the twelfth century Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury, an exile in Lyons, visited the church. Knowing that one aisle led to Mary's shrine, he asked the prelate in charge to whom the second aisle was to be dedicated. He was told, "To the next English martyr." Before the church was finished Thomas himself had been killed In England. Ever since, Fourvières has been identified with his name and is a place of pilgrimage, especially from England, in memory of St. Thomas à Becket (1118-70).


A shrine of Our Lady of Good Counsel in a small town thirty miles southeast of Rome. It possesses a famed picture of the Blessed Virgin and Child. The story of Genazzano goes back to 1467. A native widow, though having no funds, expressed the desire to rebuild an abandoned Church of Our Lady, dating from the fifth century. Without any means to carry out her plan, she was ridiculed by the townspeople until on St. Mark's day of that year, while the entire village was celebrating a public carnival, the town was mysteriously darkened though the sky remained clear. Before thousands of witnesses, when light returned a small picture of the Virgin Mother and Child was found on the foundation walls of the unfinished church. The bells of the village rang by themselves. Awed and in fear, the people awaited the verdict of a disinterested bishop who had been sent by Pope Paul II to verify the facts. His report stated that between April and mid August of 1467, he had witnessed one hundred seventy-one miracles at Genazzano. The picture was called The Madonna of Paradise. A papal committee found that the Genazzano picture had been painted on a thin layer of porcelain, of eggshell thinness, and could never have been moved by human hands. The image stands today in front of the tabernacle of the altar resting on a ledge without support. A basilica was finished in the late fifteenth century, and devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel spread throughout the world. The day of discovery of the little picture is kept with a procession of spectacular pageantry yearly, and a feast day for Our Lady of Good Counsel is on the Church's calendar. During World War II Genazzano was bombed, the basilica hit, the roof completely crushed, the interior, including altars, paintings, and statues, completely destroyed. Only the treasured picture of the Madonna was unharmed.


A shrine of the Blessed Virgin in central Mexico, suburb of Mexico City. One of the principal shrines of Christendom. Scene of the apparition of Our Lady, in December 1531, to a native Aztec peasant, fifty-one-year-old Juan Diego. He and his wife had been recent converts to Christianity. Mary appeared on a hillside near the Aztec shrine of Tepeyac and told Juan that she wanted a church built there. When Bishop Zumarraga demanded a sign, Juan was directed by Mary to pick some roses (not in bloom then), which he took to the bishop and found that his cloak had miraculously painted on it a portrait of the Mother of God. Although the material is a coarse fabric made of cactus fiber and totally unsuitable for such painting, the portrait has remained as brilliant as ever and is the principal object of veneration at Guadalupe. The shrine church, originally dedicated in 1709, is annually visited by several million, and numerous miracles are reported to have been worked there. A new basilica was consecrated at the shrine in 1976. The central message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, expressed in the first of her five apparitions, is preserved in an ancient document. Speaking to Juan Diego, Mary says, "You must know, and be very certain in your heart, my son, that I am truly the eternal Virgin, holy Mother of the True God, through whose favor we live, the Creator, Lord of heaven and the Lord of the earth." Pope John Paul II on January 27, 1979, opened at Guadalupe the Third General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate. St. Pius X in 1910 designated Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness of Latin America, and Pope Pius XII in 1945 declared her patroness of the Americas. Her feast is on December 12, and a holy day of obligation in Mexico.


One of Russia's most famous wonder-working icons of the Blessed Virgin. Housed in a small chapel at the gate of the Red Square in Moscow was the image of the thoughtful uncrowned Blessed Virgin and her Infant Child, resting on her left arm. No czar ever thought of leaving the city without a visit to ask Mary's guidance and protection. The original of this famous painting is in the Greek monastery at Mount Athos. When Czar Alexis was seriously ill, he asked that the "Virgin of the Gate," as the Mount Athos icon was called, be brought to him. A special copy was made then and sent to him. He was cured instantly. This icon was then placed in a chapel in front of the Kremlin, the same little church that served the people as a place of refuge during the Bolshevik Revolution. During the revolution this church was destroyed, but the icon was saved and for a time received honor at the Donskoi monastery. Since the Communist take-over its present location is uncertain.


Marian shrine in Hungary, west of Budapest. Its main object of devotion is a picture of the praying Madonna looking at her sleeping Child. In 1649, when Oliver Cromwell went to Ireland, the Bishop of Clonfert, in the diocese of Tuam, was arrested and exiled to the island of Innisboffin. He took with him a picture that had hung in the cathedral. In 1652 he escaped and finally reached Hungary, where he was cordially received. In the city of Györ he was made auxiliary bishop for the Hungarian diocese. After his death he willed the Irish Madonna to his Hungarian friends, who felt that her presence among them had resulted in a series of military victories over the Turks and had saved them in other national disasters. In 1697 the persecution in Ireland was renewed. Simultaneously in Hungary on March 17, 1697, the hundreds praying at the cathedral Mass noticed that their Irish Madonna was shedding tears that were falling onto the head of the sleeping Christ. The miracle lasted three hours. The picture was removed from its frame and from the wall space in an attempt to discover a natural cause, but the phenomenon continued and was attested to by many witnesses. Devotion to Our Lady of Györ has continued over the centuries. Cardinal Mindszenty (1892-1975) was photographed as he prayed publicly before the cherished Irish Madonna, asking for God's blessings on his own persecuted people.


A shrine of Madonna del Sasso, nine miles northeast of Florence, Italy. Sometimes called Our Lady of Grace, it is located in a fortress-like church on the top of the Rock overlooking the little village of Santa Brigida. Enfolded in her dark mantle, Mary is holding her Divine Child on her left arm, his bare feet cuddled partially in the folds. Each head is encircled with a brilliant halo. It was at this shrine that the Christian observance of May 1 began in Italy after World War II.


Polish national shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which contains the famous icon of Mary holding the Child Jesus. Jasna Gora, the "Hill of Light," was the principal place of pilgrimage visited by Pope John Paul II in June 1979. There are numerous references to the shrine in the speeches and writings of the Polish Pope, referring to "Our Mother of God of Jasna Gora." The location of the image on the hill Czestochowa, in south-central Poland, was occasioned by the erection of a priory of Paulite monks there since 1382.

KEVELAER (shrine)

Place of pilgrimage in North Germany, not far from the Dutch border. A Marian shrine where many disabled and sick children have been healed. In 1641 a trader on three successive nights heard a voice telling him, "Build a sanctuary in my honor here." Simultaneously his wife had an apparition of a lovely lady, and recalled an itinerant soldier selling a cheap paper picture of the Madonna. The soldier was found and the picture was bought, but because of the crowds it attracted to her small cottage she gave the picture to the village church. Repeatedly the blind, paralyzed, deaf, and mute, especially children, who came to the church were cured and the word spread that the Blessed Virgin and her Son shown in the faded picture were the merciful ones. To accommodate the crowds, it was necessary to build a larger edifice, and a new statue made of stone but resembling the paper image replaced the old picture in importance. Pope Pius IX sent the stone from Rome for the new building and in 1892 the statue was solemnly crowned. Even during the war years in Germany, thousands came to this shrine, where both the new statue and the old faded picture are centers of devotion.


Ireland's revered Marian shrine in County Mayo, dating from 1879. On August 21 of that year, during a pouring rain, the figures of Mary, Joseph, and John the Apostle appeared over the gable of the village church, enveloped in a bright light. Beside them was an altar, with a Cross surmounting it and a Lamb at its feet. No words came from any of the figures. The parish priest was not informed until the next day, as the onlookers were too stunned to leave the scene. Twice in 1880 the apparition was repeated, but the light was too intense to clearly recognize anyone but Mary. Authenticated miracles brought hundreds to the town. The Archbishop of Tuam started an inquiry. Some fifteen testified that what they saw was no painting or illusion. The Church authorities confirmed the testimony, declaring that the apparitions were "trustworthy and satisfactory." The site is now an object of national pilgrimage. Pope John Paul II visited the shrine on September 30, 1979, to mark the centenary of Mary's apparitions and rededicate the Irish people to the Mother of God.


National Shrine of Our Lady of Victory, in a suburb of Buffalo, New York. In 1876, Father Nelson Baker, of the Buffalo diocese, began working at an orphanage in Lackawanna, where he formed an Association of Our Lady of Victory to alert people to the needs of children. In gratitude to the Blessed Virgin for the generous response from the faithful he built what eventually became the present basilica, dedicated in 1926.


Shrine of "Our Lady of Conquest" in the Cathedral of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It has one of the oldest statues of Mary in America, brought to New Mexico in 1625. In 1680 the Indians took to the warpath, killing twenty-one Franciscans working among them. The white population fled, taking the little wooden statue of Mary with them. Thirteen years later the Spaniards in exile led by De Vargas made a vow to Mary that they would enthrone her as their Queen back in the Cathedral of Santa Fe if she would permit their taking their former property without bloodshed. In trust the Spaniards returned. The Indians for an unknown reason withdrew from their stronghold and Governor Vargas entered Santa Fe without opposition. La Conquistadora returned home. Vargas built a chapel to Mary as he had promised. This has been replaced by a Rosario chapel on the outskirts of the city, and it is to this chapel that "La Conquistadora" is taken in solemn procession on the fourteenth day after Trinity Sunday each year, leaving her ornate shrine in the cathedral for her annual fiesta.


A church room or building especially dedicated to Our Lady, the Virgin Mary. Within the church it was usually attached to the choir or it formed a separate small building joined to the main church. In the English cathedrals this chapel prolonged the main axis to the east: in France it was the largest and most eastern of the chevet chapels and was thought of as the crown chapel. In St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City it is a large chapel suitable for a small congregation behind the main altar.


Shrine in St. Augustine, Florida, dedicated to Nuestra Senora de la Leche, whose full title is "Our Lady, the Nursing Mother of Happy Delivery." It dates from 1565, when St. Augustine was founded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, who was accompanied by four diocesan priests. The shrine is part of America's oldest mission, Nombre de Dios, where the first Mass was celebrated. Central to the shrine is an image of the Madonna about to nurse her Child. The original image, from Madrid, and first chapel have been destroyed. But the new statue, in the present chapel built in 1915, is an exact replica of the original one.


Shrine of Our Lady of the Angels at Cartago in Costa Rica. A small black statue of the Madonna and Child was found in 1635 by a young Negro girl who took it home, but the statue returned to where it was originally. This happened several times also when the parish priest tried to keep the statue in a locked receptacle in the rectory. The citizens finally built a shrine to house the statue, which was solemnly crowned in 1927. La Negrita is a famous place of pilgrimage for Costa Ricans.


Immaculate Conception mission near Lompoc, California, founded on December 8, 1787. It was originally in a lower valley, but floods and earth tremors made the site undesirable, so in 1813 a new structure was built on higher ground near Santa Barbara. Ten years were spent in constructing the church, monastery, gardens, shops, and nearby Indian dwellings. But, due to Indian uprisings, it was practically abandoned and in ruins by 1835. However, a restoration movement sponsored by the National Park Service began in 1914; the debris was cleared away and reconstruction was successful.


Shrine of the Virgin in Tears in Southern France in the diocese of Grenoble. It was there in 1846 that two illiterate children happened to meet each other while they were herding cattle. Mélanie Calvat, age nine, and Maximin Giraud, age eleven, fell asleep on the hillside. Waking up, they saw a beautiful lady sitting on a rock in the bed of a tiny dried-up stream. She was weeping but she reassured the children and told them each separately what she called a secret. The secret remains only partially revealed, although in 1851 the children told Pope Pius IX what the lady said. To others who asked them about the message, the children merely said that there was need for humility, prayer, and penance, and that a dire punishment would await the human race if it did not repent. Famine, earthquakes, epidemics of mortal illness would result. Mélanie revealed part of the secret in 1849, but the Holy See declared that no further details of La Salette's revelation would be made. Devotion to Our Lady of La Salette was approved by the Bishop of Grenoble in 1851, and by the popes since Pius X. The scene of the apparitions is marked by a large church, adjoining the monastery of the Missionaries of La Salette, who administer the shrine.


Colombian shrine containing a large picture of the Blessed Virgin and Child painted on a sandstone slab found in a cave high in the Andes. Its location was discovered as a result of the cures reported by Indians living nearby; even their dead children were said to have been brought back to life. Over the right arm of the Mother hangs a Rosary, while on each side stands a man, thought to be St. Francis and St. Dominic. Numerous authenticated miracles have drawn crowds numbering 150,000 yearly to this church perched on the highest spot of the nearby mountains, reached by an almost impossible climb.


Shrine of Our Lady of the Blessed Valley. Scene of a series of apparitions to a poor French shepherdess, Benoite Rencure, in 1664. In the first apparition, St. Maurice directed the girl to a nearby valley where the Virgin appeared to her over a period of two months and bade her have a church built there in her honor. The edifice was built after numerous miracles of healing had been performed on the site. Three times the shrine has been pillaged but each time rebuilt. (Etym. Latin laus, praise.)


French Shrine of Our Lady of the Peak. Its central interest is an ancient statue of the Blessed Virgin and Child, perhaps the oldest in Christendom. Carved of cedar, eighteen inches high, the image was given to Le Puy by King St. Louis IX when he returned from his Egyptian crusade. Devotion to Our Lady of Le Puy was at its height in 1095 at the time of the First Crusade. Pope St. Urban II knelt before her, Sts. Bernard, Dominic, Anthony, Vincent Ferrer, and John Francis Regis came to see her as pilgrims; seven popes left her rich gifts, the French Revolution saw her statue burned but directly reconstructed from memory. The early story of this shrine relates it was built about A.D. 46 in thanksgiving for a cure. Over the centuries, thousands have visited the Rock, as Le Puy is called, singing the "Salve Regina," said to have been intoned the first time at this sanctuary.


Marian shrine at Loreto, in east central Italy near the Adriatic Sea. It is known that in 1253 St. Louis, King of France, heard Mass in Nazareth in the house where Mary, it is believed, received the Annunciation. Tradition has it that thirty-eight years later Dalmatian shepherds saw a strange house in their fields one night. The governor of Dalmatia sent to Nazareth to check the accuracy of the story and found that the holy house had disappeared. Upon examination the house in Dalmatia was found to be built of limestone, mortar, and cedar, all materials native to Nazareth and foreign to Dalmatia. Intermittently reported in various places, the house at last came to rest near the large village of Recanati at the hamlet of Loreto. Pope Boniface VIII declared that the traditions concerning the holy house were worthy of belief. December 10 was appointed the feast day of the Translation of the House. Since 1294 pilgrims from all over the world have come to Loreto, including many popes who have knelt there in prayer. The French during the Revolution removed the image of Our Lady from the holy house and took it to Paris, but Napoleon returned it and Pope Pius VII restored it to Loreto in 1802 after keeping it for a short stay at the Papal Palace on the Quirinal. The original statue was accidentally destroyed in 1921 and a new one carved from cedar grown in the Vatican gardens. Pope Pius XI enthroned the statue of Our Lady of Loreto in 1924 in the Sistine Chapel, solemnly crowned her, and with great solemnity exposed her for a day at Santa Maria Maggiore and then returned her to Loreto. The House of Loreto rests on the ground, without any foundation, yet has never evidenced any deterioration. Other remarkable aspects attend its preservation. The village of Loreto was heavily bombed in World War II, but the great church housing the House of Nazareth, with its single door, window, and fireplace, stood unshattered. Pope John XXIII made a pilgrimage to Loreto on October 4, 1962.


Island shrine on a small lake in County Donegal, northwest Ireland, a place of pilgrimage since early Christian times. The principal edifice is the Basilica of St. Patrick, near the cave known as St. Patrick's Purgatory, where in answer to the saint's prayers the incredulous could experience something of the burning of hell. Penal legislation by the British Government was repealed in 1871, so that now thousands of pilgrims visit the shrine, especially between June 1 and August 15. The custom is to stay for three days, doing penance and praying. Only one meal of bread and water or sweetened tea is had on each of the three days. Shoes are removed and the pilgrim moves from station to station, where prescribed prayers are said. The sacraments are received and the whole pilgrimage is intended to be penitential, drawing people from all classes of society.


World famous shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in the department of Hautes-Pyrénées in France. In 1858, the Blessed Virgin appeared eighteen times at Massabielle, at a grotto near Lourdes, to Bernadette Soubirous, a fourteen-year-old peasant girl. At the same time a spring appeared, miraculous healings were reported, and pilgrims began to come to the spot. In 1862 the apparitions received ecclesiastical approbation and a church was built above the grotto. Then beside it, from 1883 to 1901, was built the magnificent Church of the Rosary. Since then millions of people have visited the shrine, and a medical bureau has been established to investigate the character of the cures, of which hundreds have been fully authenticated by medical specialists. The healings generally take place after the people have bathed in the waters of the spring, or during the blessing with the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament carried in procession. Not all cures are physical, many report marvelous conversions and graces in the spiritual life. In 1891 a local feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11) was established and in 1907 extended to the universal Church by Pope St. Pius X.


Argentine shrine, forty miles west of Buenos Aires. Its main object of devotion is a small doll-like statue of the Blessed Virgin; her head is surrounded by a golden aureole and is crowned with hundreds of diamonds and other precious stones. The Basilica of Our Lady of Luján is the most important pilgrimage center in Argentina. According to legend, in 1639 a peasant from Cordova, wishing to revive his neighbors' "belief in their early faith," ordered two statues from Brazil, one of the Immaculate Conception, the other the Blessed Virgin and her Son. When the caravan delivering them reached a small ranch on the outskirts of Luján, the driver could not urge the horses on until the statue of the Immaculate Conception was removed, indicating Mary's own choice of where her shrine should be. The treasured statue went through many housing vicissitudes. One Negro grew from boyhood to old age guarding her first in a small chapel, then in a church, then in a larger edifice. As the number of miracles grew, the crowds also grew larger. In 1910 an impressive cathedral was completed and today it is one of the world's famous shrines to Mary honored by papal coronation. Since 1930 the cathedral has been raised to the rank of a basilica. Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay now all claim The Lady of Luján as their official protectress.


Shrine of "Our Lady of the Sea," near the Belgian border in southeast Netherlands, on the Meuse River. A statue of wood about four feet high, Mary holds the Child on her left arm. He clings to her left shoulder as he reaches for a flower his Mother is holding in a vase. Both figures are gold crowned. The history of the shrine goes back to 1400 when a novice brought the statue as part of his patrimony when he came to the Franciscans at Maastricht. Since then, this most beloved sanctuary in Holland has been the object of every kind of opposition. It typifies the religious struggles of the Dutch people, who came by the thousands day and night to pay their respects to "Maris Stella."


Best known shrine of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). When the Dutch conquered Ceylon and began to stamp out Catholicism, a small band of native Catholics converted by the Portuguese took to the jungle, carrying a statue of the Madonna with them. Eventually a church was built to house it. As no one can live in the jungle during the wet season, Mary is alone for months, but when the rains pass, Moslems and Hindus as well as Catholics journey to Madhu. The pilgrimage is planned to take a month. They sing hymns, chant the Rosary as they trudge through the deep tangled growth. The statue is of Our Lady of the Rosary. There is a custom that the sick must remain outside the church and chant their entreaties loud enough for Mary to hear them. The dust outside the little church is a proven cure for poisonous snakebites. During World War II daily prayers were effectively offered at Madhu that Ceylon would be saved from a Japanese invasion.


In the motherhouse chapel of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul on Rue de Bac, Paris. In 1830 the Blessed Virgin appeared three times, sitting in a chair, to a novice, Catherine Labouré, asking her to have a medal struck honoring her Immaculate Conception. The chair is now preserved as a relic there. Mary told Catherine of the terrible things that would happen unless true religious fervor among the people was revived. Catherine's first attempt to follow the Blessed Mother's, request was unsuccessful, but later a medal was coined depicting the Blessed Virgin. Catherine Labouré was canonized in 1947 by Pope Pius XII, and her uncorrupted body in the motherhouse makes this shrine a most popular place of pilgrimage. A replica of the shrine brings thousands of pilgrims to novena devotions at Germantown, Pennsylvania, in America to pay tribute to the Mother of God and the humble Daughter of Charity to whom she appeared in France.

MARIAZELL (shrine)

The most famous place of pilgrimage to Mary in Central Europe, high in the Austrian Alps. Its origins go back to 1154, when Magnus, a Benedictine monk, retired from the abbey at Lambrecht to live a more contemplative life. He carried with him a twenty-two-inch simple statue of Mary and her infant Son. He lost his way in the woods near Graatz, and night found him facing a high rock that he could neither climb nor go around. He placed the statue on a log while he prayed to Our Lady for direction. The high black rock suddenly split in two and light shone forth from its severed edges. He realized that Mary had led him there and wanted to be honored in that place. He built a small hermitage with a tree stump for a pedestal to hold the statue. About a century later a neighboring prince and his wife were seriously ill. Being told in a dream to go to the hermitage and pray, they were cured. In gratitude they built a church on the spot. The statue of Our Lady of Mariazell, though over eight hundred years old, has never shown any sign of wear or decay. The Madonna is seated, her dress is white, with a blue mantle. The Infant holds an apple in his hand. Mary is holding a pear. The first church replacing the small chapel was built in 1200. In 1340 the King of Hungary erected a larger church to accommodate the pilgrims. In the seventeenth century the present Baroque edifice was built. The Austro-Hungarian rulers considered it their most cherished shrine. Veneration to Mary and her Son continued under all vicissitudes until grave war dangers forced a temporary concealment of the treasured statue. This shrine has maintained its Austrian character though it has been a haven to people from many nations. In 1975 Cardinal Mindszenty was buried at Mariazell, his personally designated final resting place.

MOKAMEH (shrine)

A sanctuary of Our Mother of Divine Grace, where a church was built in 1947 about 200 miles from Calcutta on the Ganges River. The church is Hindu in style, and the statue of Mary is dressed in a sari with her eyes lowered in meditation. Organized groups of pilgrims, among whom are Christians, Moslems, and Hindus, arrive from great distances.


The Holy Mountain, twenty miles from Barcelona, Spain. Its central feature is a statue of the Virgin Mary and her divine Son, thirty-eight inches high, made of wood now blackened with age. It is housed in a church built on the top of the rocks where a Benedictine abbey now stands. According to tradition previous to A.D. 888, this image of Christ and his Mother was miraculously found among the rocks of Montserrat, strange lights and angelic music guiding searchers to a mountain cavern where it was hidden. All the kings of Spain came to worship at the shrine chapel, and the names of saints such as Ignatius of Loyola, Vincent Ferrer, and Joseph Calasanz have been connected with this shrine. Since the Napoleonic Wars and the more recent Spanish Civil War all the buildings have been modernized.


Shrine of Our Lady, patroness of Brazil, at the Basilica of Aparecida, near the city of São Paulo. The statue venerated here was drawn out of the water by a group of fishermen in 1717. At first housed in a small chapel, the image became the source of so many favors that eventually it was placed in the present church, declared a basilica in 1929. More than a half million pilgrims come to the shrine annually.


Marian sanctuary at Oura, near Nagasaki, Japan. In 1865 when a French priest built a small chapel on a hill at Oura, a group of women came from nearby Urakami to tell him that they had "the same heart" that he had, which meant that they had kept the faith for two centuries without benefit of clergy. The tiny reopened church at Urakami was completely destroyed by the 1945 atom bomb, but the nearby church dedicated to Mary at Oura remained intact. It was the site hallowed by the crucifixion of twenty-six Christians in the seventeenth century. It was also the place where Catholics had preserved their faith without the sacraments, relying solely on prayer to Mary for guidance.


National Shrine of Our Lady near Turin, Italy. St. Eusebius, on his way back from the Holy Land after his exile during the Arian heresy, brought to the hermitage chapel at Oropa a statue of the Madonna. Later he died there. Mary of the shrine is called the Black Madonna because the Mother and Child in the three-foot-high statue have jet black faces and hands deliberately colored by the original carver. When Biella was saved in the 1599 plague, which decimated the entire section, the commune decided to build a larger sanctuary. The main temple, or church, was to have an outer and an inner court within which the original first shrine was to be enclosed. A second coronation of the Black Madonna by Pope Clement XI took place in 1720, the centenary of the first coronation. The buildings today are as they were then. Oropa has become a veritable city of chapels, inns, hospitals, shops, offices, theater, and museum attached to the shrine. The statue shows Our Lady standing, the Holy Child seated on his Mother's left arm. Mary's head carries the triple crowns of 1620, 1720, 1820, surrounded by a hoop of gold with twelve diamond stars representing her fourth papal crowning in 1920. The list of recorded miracles here is astounding. In 1918 the Redemptorists were asked by the Holy See to take care of the shrine.


Mary's home near Selchuk, Turkey, two hundred miles from Constantinople in western Asia Minor. The reputed house where the Blessed Virgin spent her last years on earth. Ephesus is mostly in ruins, but about ten miles from the old city Our Lady's house is a pilgrimage spot that receives five thousand or more pilgrims monthly. A Catholic priest is in constant attendance. Moslems as well as Christians have come here since 1691 to pay homage to Mary. The small house was rebuilt in 1951 after long years of pilgrims' feet had practically destroyed it. Pope Paul VI made a pilgrimage to this shrine in July 1967.


Marian shrine located in Portugal where a little statue of Mary is honored under the title of "Our Lady of Nazareth." This image is believed to have been brought from the East in the eighth century by a monk from Nazareth and enthroned in a monastery at Lerida, but soon lost. It was rediscovered in 1182 by a knight in an abandoned cave. Legend tells that on the feast of Holy Cross the knight, out hunting as usual, gave chase to a large stag. In his excitement he did not notice the steep cliff toward which the stag was leading him. The stag plunged over the cliff, and in that moment the knight discerned the animal as the devil. Realizing the imminent danger, the knight prayed to Mary and her Son for help. The horse's footprints are still visible today where they became impressed in the solid rock in the frenzied attempt to stop. In gratitude the knight built for his beloved statue a shrine that was soon replaced by a small chapel. Seventeen villages in the vicinity share the little figure as they give honor in a two-day celebration on Mary's feast, but in this case the situation is reversed—Mary takes the yearly pilgrimage, while her people remain at home to welcome her.


Roman shrine on Via Merulana containing the miraculous picture of Madonna and Child. The picture rests on the main altar and is painted like an icon. Two angels designated as Sts. Michael and Gabriel are flying beside the Virgin's head, carrying in their veiled hands the instruments of Christ's Passion, the Cross, the spear, and the sponge. Some think that St. Luke painted the picture, but it was more probably a Greek artist of the thirteenth or fourteenth century. It was first in the possession of a wealthy Cretan merchant, then brought to Rome and eventually enthroned in St. Matthew's Church in the Holy City after first being carried in a street procession. For three hundred years crowds of pilgrims have journeyed far to see this picture, the source of many cures. In 1812, St. Matthew's Church was razed and for fifty-four years the picture's location was not known. When it was found, Pope Pius IX gave it to the Redemptorist Fathers for their church on the spot where Mary first had been revered in this special manner as Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The American national shrine honoring her under that name is at Roxbury, Massachusetts.


A Marian shrine in Gloucestershire in the Cotswolds of western England, now a monastery of the English Benedictines. Its focus of devotion is a small statue (eighteen inches high) of Our Lady, which belonged to St. Thomas More. After the Reformation this choice possession was taken to Europe. In 1925, when the monks coming from Caldey Island, off the south coast of Wales, founded their new abbey, the statue was returned to Prinknash. Mary's shrine is now near the choir stalls of the monastery chapel.


A Marian shrine in New Orleans, Louisiana. The story of this shrine began with an Ursuline nun, Mother St. Michel, exiled by the French Revolution. Wishing to join her American community, she was prevented by the Monsignor of Montpellier, France, who forbade her to leave a recently opened school. Mother St. Michel then prayed before a statue of Our Lady and Infant for prompt help; almost immediately she received a reply from Pope Pius VII, granting her request. The grateful nun arrived in New Orleans on January 1, 1810, with her statue and a few interested companions, and lost no time in spreading devotion to Our Lady under the title of "Prompt Help." When the Battle of New Orleans was in progress, Mother St. Michel asked people to join her in praying for an American victory. On the field of Chalmette, against great odds, the Americans won. Mary was then given her new title in a service of thanksgiving, her feast being formally approved by Pope Pius IX. Devotion spread rapidly. The Child and his Mother were crowned in 1894, and she was made patroness of Louisiana under her new title. Today the statue is in a new Gothic chapel under a stone canopy where pilgrims attest to many physical and spiritual miracles.


A shrine to Mary and her Son affectionately called "La Pequeñita," at Quinche, an isolated village in the Ecuadorian Andes. In 1856 a skilled woodcarver wishing to make a statue for the neighboring Indians copied a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which for some reason they refused, and he gave it to some Ecuadorians. They made a niche for their cedar Madonna and installed her at Quinche. The villagers, wanting to entertain Mary and Jesus, sang songs to them at night. Always around the little image was a bright light, and many cures were told of those who had touched the rough little mantle of coarse local fiber that had been used to clothe the Madonna. Much impressed, they built a chapel, then a church, which grew in size as the crowds increased. Many of the miracles performed by La Pequeñita have been verified, including a child brought back to life, a fatal ax victim cured, a large grain field harvested without benefit of any workers. The Ecuadorians love the “Virgin of the Rocks,” as she is also called, and carry her image in procession, knowing that it will never rain on her feast days.


Shrine of Our Lady Protectress of Rome, also called Santa Maria Maggiore. The original basilica of the Blessed Virgin was built about A.D. 350 and was called Santa Maria ad Nives because of the legend that the location of the church was determined by the appearance of snow on the Esquiline Hill on a summer day. The first treasure of the present church is a miraculous image of the Madonna with the Infant Jesus attributed to St. Luke and said to have been brought by St. Helena from the Holy Land. Historians rate the painting as being at least 1500 years old. The citizens of Rome flock to the basilica whenever their city is in danger. In 597, Pope Gregory I carried the painting in solemn procession to St. Peter's when Rome was being decimated by the Black Plague; and when Anzio, only twenty miles away, was being bombed in World War II, the shrine was thronged day and night by the Roman faithful. The original church was built in the fourth century. When Pope Sixtus III rebuilt it in the fifth century, he gave it the further title of Santa Maria ad Praesepe (St. Mary of the Crib) because part of the original manger from Bethlehem was in the basilica's crypt. Pope Pius XII said his first Mass before Mary's altar in this cathedral, and in 1939 he pontificated at a Mass of thanksgiving at the same altar.

SARAGOSSA (shrine)

Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Pillar, near Saragossa in northeastern Spain, where Mary is said to have appeared in early Christian times, asking that a church be built there in her honor. After the vision, the jasper pillar on which she stood remained and it became a most coveted relic. A church was built as requested and the pillar was enshrined within it. It is a six-foot-high stone column almost completely unadorned, now nearly encased in silver. On top of it is an ancient black wooden statue of Mary about fifteen inches tall, covered with gold leaf. So varied is her wardrobe that she wears different attire every day. The devotion to Our Lady of the Pillar, initiated at Saragossa, was brought to the New World by the Spanish explorers, and their missions boast of many miracles worked through Mary's favor. Some of the most incredible ones at the mother shrine have been authenticated by sworn testimony. The Virgin of the Pillar is recurrent as a theme in prayer, songs, and patriotic expressions. She was often invoked in battle emergencies. The heart of Don John of Austria, the Christian victor at Lepanto, rests near the sacred pillar in this sanctuary.


Lithuanian shrine to the Weeping Virgin, to which over a hundred thousand formerly came annually to pray to Mary for help, some to be cured. In the early sixteenth century, when much of the country was Protestant and Lithuania was fighting both Russia and Sweden, a few shepherd children saw the vision of a beautiful young woman holding a sleeping child in her arms. Dressed in white, she was crying, her tears falling on her little one. The children ran home to return with their parents and neighbors, among them a Lutheran minister serving locally. The lady told them that all the cause of her sorrow was the absence of the old church that had honored her Son and had once been on the spot where she was. An old man whose blindness was later cured at the shrine verified the lady's story. He directed the digging there and an old chest filled with altar vessels and a picture of the Virgin was brought to light. Buried records told of a church there in 1457, long since destroyed. A new church was built on the old grounds and the picture of Mary enthroned within. Pilgrims came from great distances to the hallowed spot. Since 1940, when Lithuania was incorporated into the U.S.S.R., the state of the shrine is uncertain.


This shrine to Mary was founded in 1926 in Portland, Oregon, and is constructed on two terraces, one on street level, another at the top of a high cliff. A marble Crucifixion group dominates the area. On the lower level is a cavern where under the grotto arch stands a white altar framed with flowers and vines. Above on the cliff wall is a replica of Michelangelo's Pietá with two bronze angels holding torches. At the western end of the amphitheater is the cross-laden Christ, whose stumbling figure leads the eye to his Mother standing at the very top of the one-hundred-fifty-foot cliff wall. The Stations of the Cross dot the base of the hill, also the praying figure of St. Philip Benizi, founder of the Semites, who are in charge of the shrine.


Shrine of Our Lady of Tongres, in Belgium, near the German border, a pilgrimage spot since the First Crusade. In February 1081 a blinded knight returning to his castle home heard angelic voices and the following morning found a statue of the Blessed Virgin in his garden. He tried to make a suitable oratory for "the lady" in his castle but after each attempt found her back in the original spot where she appeared. He then built a small outdoor chapel there to enclose the statue. In 1090 the King of France, at war with the Flemish, camped near Tongres. A voice told the blinded knight to go to the aid of the warring king. Imploring Mary's help before going into battle, he received his sight, and when the opposing Flemish army heard of the miracle they withdrew in fear before the battle hour. Much effort and money were spent in the enrichment and enlargement of this shrine that was well known throughout Christian lands. People came especially when their land was harassed by plague. During the French Revolution the original statue was hidden to prevent its destruction and a duplicate image was kept in the chapel. In 1881 the original was crowned with special papal commendation.


Shrine of Our Lady Liberatrix in Italy. Veneration of Mary the Mother of God began here in a special manner in 1320 after Viterbo was delivered from a mysterious and terrifying experience—an unexplained darkness covered the city for four days. The citizens made a fresco painting of Mary and the Divine Child on the wall of a chapel dedicated to St. Anne in the mid-fourteenth century, and for more than a hundred years went there to thank the Virgin. The present edifice was built in 1680 and is still frequented by a great number of pilgrims.


A sacred icon of Mary and her Son which has a long and venerable tradition in Russian history. It was probably painted at the beginning of the twelfth century and brought to Kiev in the Ukraine from Constantinople. Then it was taken as a gift to the ruling prince of the city of Vladimir, east of Moscow, where it remained until the time of the invasion of Tamerlane, who was approaching Moscow. The icon was then transferred from Vladimir to Moscow. Tamerlane halted his armies and Moscow was saved (1395). The icon remained in Moscow. On three other occasions, in 1451, 1459, and 1480, the Tatars menaced Moscow, but the city was saved through the intercession of Our Lady of Vladimir. As a sign of gratitude three feasts came to be celebrated in her honor annually, on May 21, June 23, and August 26. At the time of the Russian Revolution, the Communists took the icon from the Cathedral of the Assumption and placed it in the Tretiakov Art Gallery, where it is now on display.


The most famous of England's shrines to the Blessed Virgin, near Norfolk in Anglia. As a place of pilgrimage, it dates from the eleventh century, when a noble widow built a replica of the Holy House of Nazareth on English soil in response to her dreams of such a request from the Mother of God. This first chapel, paneled in wood and lighted by candles, was a Marian shrine for four hundred years. A Lady's Chapel was built to enclose the small house, and in the thirteenth century a priory church was added to accommodate the Augustinian canons who serviced the shrine. Thousands began to flock to this shrine by the sea—including kings and the historical great—to revere Mary; it was because of Walsingham that England was titled "Our Lady's Dowry." But in 1538 Walsingham, by royal edict, was totally destroyed. Mary's image was burned and in time the shrine was forgotten except by a few loyal patrons of Mary. Three hundred years passed and all that remained was a legend. However, in the nineteenth century, archaeologists excavating near the site discovered remnants of the holy shrine. Old documents were searched and the Slipper Chapel (on the site of Walsingham) was reborn. In 1897 a new statue duplicating the old, from pictures, was enshrined in the parish church, later to be taken to the restored Slipper Chapel. The famous Lady's Chapel, the rich gold and silver gifts, and the priory are all lacking, but Walsingham's history has been revived. It coincided with John Henry Newman's appearance on the English religious scene. Today pilgrims come from all parts of England, many on foot walking the "penitential mile."


Church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, who was declared patroness of the United States by the Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1846. The project for the shrine was begun in 1914, after Pope St. Pius X approved the plans, which originated with Bishop Shahan, fourth rector of the Catholic University. Pope Benedict XV sent a mosaic of Murillo's Immaculate Conception in 1919, in time for the cornerstone laying by Cardinal Gibbons in 1920. Popes Pius XI and XII sent further favors to the shrine, visited by Cardinal Pacelli in 1936, before his elevation to the papacy. The main church was solemnly dedicated in 1959. More than fifty chapels have been installed since the dedication. The campanile houses a fifty-six-bell carillon. With a seating capacity of six thousand persons, the shrine is one of the largest religious buildings in the world. All the American dioceses and numerous religious communities and organizations have contributed to its erection. Over one million persons visit the shrine each year. Pope John Paul II addressed several thousand religious women at the shrine (October 7, 1979) to close his seven-day visit of the United States.


Shrine of Our Lady's Isle offshore, in southeastern Ireland. Known as the Church of the Bright Plain since the seventh century, it was the place of a planned massacre by Oliver Cromwell in Reformation times, where many of the faithful were killed while attending High Mass. The shrine was destroyed except for a small statue of Our Lady. A church was rebuilt on the mainland, but the original site remains in ruins, although it has been visited by thousands.

ZAMBOANGA (shrine)

A center of Marian devotion on Mindanao, a southern island of the Philippines. Our Lady's white shrine was part of the fortress wall of the town. Christians would come to pray at this shrine to invoke Mary's help to subdue the fierce hatred of the Moslem Moros who lived near Zamboanga. These natives sent each year a chosen Moro into the Christian crowd that came to celebrate their holy day near the shrine, commissioning him to kill as many Christians as he could, being ready to die himself as a result of his act if captured. The shrine, now a place of special devotion in the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, was erected in 1910.


Marian shrine of Jalisco, ten miles west of Guadalajara, in Mexico. Also known as La Chappareta or The Queen of Jalisco, its main feature is a twelve-inch statue of Mary, brought here by a Franciscan friar in 1530. Some six thousand Indians were converted within a week after a strange light encircled the statue of the Madonna. Numerous miracles are reported, especially during the pilgrimages on August 15 and September 8.


Marian shrine set on a hill near Shanghai, China. The hill was owned by a General Zo, from whom the place received its name. In 1870 the Chinese, running wild, were ravishing the nearby countryside, and the little Catholic group at Zoce was saved only when a sudden storm dispersed the bandits. The Jesuit priest, Father Della Croce, and his flock attributed their escape to the Blessed Virgin, to whom they had never ceased to pray. In their gratitude they built a small chapel and installed in it a picture of Mary, Help of Christians. The shrine to Our Lady of Zoce became popular. In 1873, a larger church was necessary to accommodate the pilgrims. On the pinnacle of the new church spire, the twenty thousand who came yearly to the shrine could view a heroic size statue of the Virgin Mother and her Son. The City Council of Shanghai, composed of Christians and Buddhists, dedicated China to Mary under the title "Our Lady of Zoce." As late as 1953 over fifteen hundred people received Holy Communion there daily. The present status of the shrine is unknown.

The true secret of success in any work is to interest Mary in it.
Father Chaminade

(The Modern Catholic Dictionary – Copyright © 2000 by InterMirifica)

In cooperation with Antonia Salzano Acutis,
Curator of the Pontifical Academy Cultorum Martyrum and
President of the Institute of Saint Clement I Pope and Martyr,
the Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association
presents in English, complete with beautiful artwork, the following Exhibitions.

Eucharistic Miracles
Eucharistic Miracles
Angels and Demons
Angels and Demons
Paradise, Hell, Purgatory
Paradise, Hell, Purgatory
Blessed Virgin Mary
Blessed Virgin Mary

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Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association
718 Liberty Lane
Lombard, IL 60148
Phone: 815-254-4420
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