In Thanksgiving for a weekend of pilgrimages, including a shrine

During a hectic weekend filled with annual pilgrimages to both La Crosse, for the Wisconsin State Theatre Festival, and to Madison, for Fundamentally Sound’s Fall Show, we detoured for a little while to a beautiful shrine.

Located just outside La Crosse, Wisconsin, The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe proved to be a sweet respite from the cheerful chaos of our crazy lives.

Summer offers a showcase of the 80-acre site’s beautiful landscaping; fall surrounds the whole hilly area with gorgeous color, both excellent seasons to visit.

We popped in on a windy, grey day in November, with crunchy snow on the ground and dead leaves scattered everywhere. Still, we found the place beautiful.

In some ways, because we mostly had the entire grounds to ourselves during our two-hour stay, which left plenty of room for quiet reflection and solitary appreciation, we felt we had visited during the perfect season.

I especially enjoyed the Rosary Walk, which meanders through four mysteries — joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous. I would have lingered there, as I had the entire area to myself, but I felt a little frostbite seeping into my fingers and I heard the church bells summoning me to the nice warm shrine church for mass.

We happened to hit the chapel just in time for the 12:15 mass, which happened to be in honor of Saint Cecilia, which happens to be the middle name of both my daughter and my maternal grandma, so we stayed.

As we worked out way back down toward the Pilgrim Center, we passed the Votive Candle Chapel, which glowed with a lovely blue light I could not capture with my cell phone camera. (Also, because my companion/mother, kept sighing heavily and saying in a stage whisper, “You aren’t going to take pictures in here are you?”)

I highly recommend a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is at best a holy pilgrimage site where believers can offer heartfelt prayers, and is at least a beautiful and spiritual place of secular peace.

Grandma Peggy
Here is my mom, having completing the half-mile hike up a winding, hilly path to the Shrine Church.
Memorial to the Unborn
I’m sure the Memorial to the Unborn looks even prettier in the summer, when the flowers bloom and the fountains run.
Rosary Walk View
I enjoyed the rosary walk, with its four mysteries displayed on four brick monuments.
Unborn Memorial
A distance (and somewhat lonely) shot of the Memorial garden.
Narthex Ceiling
I may or may not have stretched out on my back in the narthex of the Shrine Church to get this shot of the painted ceiling. (Don’t tell my mom.)
Kateri Tekakwitha
Blessed Kateria Tekakwitha, the daughter of a Mohawk chief and Christian Algonquin mother.
St. Juan Diego
St. Juan Diego and Bishop Juan de Zumárraga, the firts archbishop of Mexico City. (I had to do a little research when I got home. Long story short, The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe visited Juan Diego five times, which led to his canonization.)
Rosary Walk
The entrance to the Rosary Walk.
Stations of the Cross
Station One of the outdoor Stations of the Cross.
Votive Candle Chapel
We’re making our way down here, and about to enter to Votive Candle Chapel.
Inside Votive Candle Chapel
Someone was hustling me along, but here’s a shot of the beautiful votive candle display. It takes up most of the chapel’s inside.
Stained Glass
This is the back wall of the chapel.


4 thoughts on “In Thanksgiving for a weekend of pilgrimages, including a shrine

  1. I lived in LaCrosse in the mid-80s, going to school at Viterbo University (it was ‘College’ then). I have always said that of all the places that I have traveled all over the world, LaCrosse was the most beautiful. The Shrine is amazing and I can relate to your mother stage-whispering because my grandmother would have done the same thing (!). If you ever get the chance, please try to visit the St Rose of Viterbo Convent-Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Chapel there. It has been there, gee, I think around 150 years and most of the materials were brought over from Italy. It is imposing. I remember as a young college girl needing to go into the convent for tutoring and ringing the bell to gain entrance and walking in shaking, terrified of the grand-ness. You would love it.

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