||Pilgrims from Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Madison attend Mass in the Shrine Church at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in La Crosse during a visit on September 30 of this year. (Catholic Herald photo/Joe Ptak)
LA CROSSE -- Nestled in the foothills of the bluffs near La Crosse lies the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This shrine has been the destination of many pilgrims, including those from parishes in the Diocese of Madison.
A group from Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Madison visited the shrine on September 30 this year. Parishioner Randi Huntsman enjoyed the pilgrimage, saying she came away feeling “very refreshed and peaceful.”
Huntsman noted that the shrine was built with “nature in mind.” Besides the Shrine Church, Pilgrim Center, and Votive Candle Chapel, the shrine grounds include outdoor Stations of the Cross and a Rosary Walk. Huntsman liked the opportunity for prayer and reflection, along with lighting candles for loved ones.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” she said of the visit to the shrine. “I would encourage people to take advantage of this opportunity.”
As we prepare to observe the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe December 12, it is an appropriate time to focus on the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is within close driving distance to the Diocese of Madison.
Bishop Burke’s dream
When he was installed as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse in 1995, Bishop Raymond L. Burke expressed his desire to establish a Marian shrine there.
In 1999 he announced plans for construction of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On June 17, 2001, he presided over ground-breaking for the shrine complex on 70 acres of woodland donated by the Robert Swing Family of La Crosse.
By December of 2002, the first phase of the shrine project was finished. This included the Pilgrim Center and the Mother of Good Counsel Votive Candle Chapel.
Pilgrim Center, Votive Chapel
The Pilgrim Center includes a gift shop with a large selection of religious gifts, books, videos, music, and artwork and the Culina Mariana (Mary’s Kitchen) Restaurant, which opens for breakfast at 9 a.m. and serves lunch until 2 p.m. and dessert and beverages until 4 p.m.
A short walk from the Pilgrim Center is the Votive Candle Chapel. This unique chapel houses 576 votive candles. Stained glass windows in the chapel honor the Blessed Mother under seven different titles.
Outdoor devotional areas
From the Votive Candle Chapel, pilgrims may walk along a paved meditation trail that gradually climbs along the contours of the bluff leading to the Shrine Church, dedicated in 2008, and other outdoor devotional areas.
Outdoor features include Stations of the Cross, a Rosary Walk with plaques explaining the mysteries of the Rosary, and areas devoted to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (the first Native American declared Blessed) and St. Joseph the Workman and the Holy Family.
On December 12, 2008, a memorial to the unborn was dedicated. It includes plaques which explain Catholic teaching on contraception, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and the dignity of all life.
For more information on the shrine and pilgrimage services, go to www.guadalupeshrine.org