A recent trip took us to La Crosse, Wisconsin. One of our favorite places in the whole country with many memories for us. When we lived in Minnesota, it was often a place we took respite from our full time foster care of 8 teenaged boys at a time. It also often served as a romantic getaway. We love that place.
This last visit in the motorhome without a tow vehicle to get around and three pets traveling with us was not as easy to enjoy the things we had planned. It was made near impossible when they had temps in the 90’s and high humidity. When traveling with pets in those conditions, you must always look for situations that are more favorable to the pets. This greatly limited our activity and we were only there a few days and saw very little. One of the places we decided to investigate this time was the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We had seen the sign for the shrine numerous times but, never stopped to visit this attraction.
We are not Catholic but, something drew me to the location in spite of only being able to remain there a short time. We found a spot to park the motorhome that was shaded and out of the hustle and bustle of the area far from the parking lot. We were really concerned for the pets. The dogs had already been walked in Riverside Park by the river. A beautiful fairly shady place and still the heat took their toll on them. They had been watered and wiped with wet towels frequently and even treated to some ice cold ice cream but, still they looked extremely done in by the heat. With these factors in mind, we did a short but, impressive tour of the facility.
The Lady of Guadalupe was the name given to the Virgin Mary when she presented herself to a peasant in Mexico. When the peasant was eventually asked to get a miracle as proof she was the Virgin Mary by the arch bishop when the peasant related the story about her appearance. He returned to Our Lady and asked for a sign. She told him to climb a nearby hill and pick flowers. The peasant was amazed since no flowers should be in bloom at this time of year and what he found did not even grow in his area. He took the flowers back down and the lady arranged them inside his cloak. He was told not to open his cloak except for the arch bishop. When he returned to the arch bishop and opened his cloak the flowers fell to the floor and on his cloak was the image of the Lady of Guadalupe.
Miracles have long become associated with The Lady of Guadalupe images. The Mexican people used this as a sign they even took into battle asserting their right to be independent and free by divine right. Of course in any case of reported miraculous events, it has resulted in a divided opinion as to its authenticity. Whether you are Catholic or not or believe the story surrounding it or not, it is worthy of a look.
The shrine has an entire chapel built around it and the grounds are worthy of its sacred designation. There are beautiful walks and cool shady places for mediation on the grounds. The flower beds are numerous and the statuary is superb.
Inside the chapel are the qualities of a small cathedral. The domed ceiling displays a constellation, the very same one that would have been seen by the peasant the time he saw her. The walls displayed huge paintings of saints positioned almost as the stations –of- the -cross would have been presented. Above them were a series of stained glass windows on two entire sides and even higher an additional series of stained glass windows above them. The massive organ was a gleaming fixture in all its golden splendor. The crucifix was protected by two exquisite angels and the entire place gleamed with gilt and sparkled with sunlit color.
While lighting some candles I was aware of the solemnity of the chapel and even then a saying of the rosary was taking place. The chapel has many masses and services daily.
The feeling that you had stepped onto sacred ground was overwhelming, but never so much for me as when we stopped to visit the Memorial for the Unborn Children. There is a breathtaking statue of the Virgin Mary with three babes in her arms at the entrance. As you wind your way through the flower beds along sparkling white walks and meticulously cared for gardens, you make your way to the Guardian Angel who stands to protect our unborn children. She is a sight of strength and beauty and stands in front of the real crypts of real unborn children. The place is full of sadness, beauty and hope that someday people realize these are real human souls. We feel a great need to advocate for the unborn.
We were so grateful we stopped but, wish we could have more thoroughly explored this place. The beauty of the place and the spiritual refreshment of such places may make your day. The peace it exudes is a respite from your cares and worries.
It is located in La Crosse, Wisconsin on 5250 Justin Road. Call for more info at 877-799-4059 or visit the website at www.quadalupeshrine.org.