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.