Pope John Paul II urged us to prepare for the Great Jubilee 2000 as a time full of hope, “a new springtime of Christianity.” In response to the Pope’s call, an 85′ tall Millennium Spire was constructed and rises out of a Candelarium built at the top of the hill overlooking the Shrine’s Amphitheater.
Thousands of prayer requests, in the form of votive candles, light up the base of the Spire.
Located in a beautiful, wooded area, the Lourdes Grotto was among the first devotional sites completed at the Shrine. It is a replica of the famed Lourdes Grotto in France where Our Lady appeared in 1858 to a young, peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous.
During the Grotto construction, finding a way to preserve the contours of the hillside while simulating the appearance of a rock cavern was a decided challenge for engineers. A local artisan proposed a way to duplicate the grotto at Lourdes. Dirt was piled up in such a way as to form a mold for the cavern.
Cement was poured over, around and behind the dirt mold to form a 3′ thick cement shell. The dirt was removed after the cement hardened and put on top of the structure. The result was nearly an exact reproduction scaled to two-thirds the size of the original Lourdes Grotto in France.
In 1961, the tenth Annual Solemn Novena – the first held at the Shrine’s present location – was held at the Lourdes Grotto.
Today, the Lourdes Grotto is beautifully landscaped with flower gardens, trees and shrubs and has been a favorite devotional site for pilgrims visiting the Shrine. A secluded altar is set within the Grotto for the occasional Mass, devotional service or wedding ceremony.
This National Shrine is located in Belleville, IL. I took advantage of a cloudy day and enjoyed a few hours admiring this awesome place. I’ll have more pics, soon!
The Outdoor Altar & Amphitheater
The impressive Main Shrine is situated at the base of a natural outdoor amphitheatre. In addition to the permanent seating, the grassy slopes of the Amphitheatre can accommodate several thousand people. The Outdoor Altar’s graceful contour, enhanced by the talents of several artists, echoes the structural harmony and artistic integration found in Europe’s Renaissance cathedrals.
Christ the King Chapel, the Chapel of Santo Niño de Cebu and the Rosary Courts are integrated into the Main Shrine area. A massive steel framework was built. Wet cement was sprayed over the entire structure to form a shell. Rising gracefully from the concrete shell is a 50′ concrete “M” which stands for Mary, the Mother of Jesus. A 70′ spire rises from the apex of the symbolic “M” serving as a beacon guiding visitors to the magnificent setting. Three circles, representing the Holy Trinity, surmount a bronze cross. A bronze dove in downward flight is at the base of the spire, symbolizing the Holy Spirit.
Our Lady of the Snows
The 16′ fiberglass statue of Our Lady of the Snows stands beneath the symbolic dove and before a tongue of fire. She is surrounded by a chalice, symbolizing her role as Christ’s Mother. Her gown is designed in the form of a Calla Lily, a symbol of purity. She holds the Christ Child up and forward, presenting her Son to the world.
The black marble altar in front of Our Lady of the Snows is the Main Altar for outdoor liturgies at the Shrine. Artist Rodney Winfield designed the large bronze crucifix, the tabernacle and the pair of three branched candelabras. The latticework of metal rings beside the chalice represents graces flowing to us from God. Additional rings and circles are reflected in stonework on the first and second levels of the sanctuary, emphasizing Christ’s blessings to all who receive Him.
Ok, I know you’ve seen a ton of these shots over the past few days, but here’s my last submission to pile….
The infamous D-Ring of the show! Sure, I didn’t have a Gazillion mm lens like the folks around me, but had a great time!