First of all, if you are a super-religious conservative Catholic, you might want to skip this post. There may be a bit of cynicism mixed in.
Chuck’s and my plan for today was to drive to New Lisbon, Wisconsin and taste wines at Burr Oak Winery. Because we are determined to see every little thing that catches our eye, we were stopping at Historical Markers and other sights along the way.
Approaching the town of Necedah, Wisconsin we saw billboards advertising the Queen of the Holy Rosary Mediatrix of Peace Shrine. This intrigued me. Partly because of the thought of a shrine…I don’t think I’ve ever been to one (in the US, maybe in Vietnam)….and partly because the use of the term Mediatrix was so unusual.
(Wikipedia tells me “In Roman Catholic Mariology, the title Mediatrix refers to the intercessory role of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a mediator in the salvific redemption by her son Jesus Christ, and that he bestows graces through her. Mediatrix is an ancient title that has been used by a number of saints since at least the 5th century.”)
So, when the turn-off to the shrine appeared, we turned. We drove up to a fenced compound with various statues and shrines in it. We walked up to the Information Building and at the door was a notice that women needed to be dressed “modestly” in order to enter. We went into the building…just in time to hear the end of a conversation between one of the staff and a visitor about the miracles that had occurred there. I picked up a brochure and said hello to the other staff member and asked if we could just walk the grounds. He said yes so off we went.
The first thing we ran across, after the stations of the cross down the sidewalk, was a shrine to Mary along with a plaque.
“OUR HOLY MOTHER. Queen of the Holy Rosary, Mediatrix of Peace, has bestowed her special graces on the SACRED SPOT for those who here venerate and ask for intercessions. This cross is a particle of the original marble from the SACRED SPOT.”
Next to that was an area where silence was requested because it was THE SACRED SPOT.
Moving into the fenced area, we found a series of shrines to various saints and biblical figures, including a quite interesting shrine that included George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Jesus.
The shrine that described the original apparition was fairly touching, describing a dove of peace being sent from the Mother to the people, and a white light of love surrounding them.
Other shrines were a bit more disturbing, including the one of Archangel Michael
and of Jesus’ crucifixion
Chuck left the tour before I finished and went back into the Information Building where he was regaled by one of the volunteers with all of the information this shrine is propagating. Apparently, Mary is quite interested in politics and the supremacy of the United States. The apparitions began in the 1950’s and reportedly continued until the death of Mary Ann Van Hoof, the woman who was “favored with the heavenly visitations.” Besides wanting love and peace, Mary’s requests of Mary Ann included building shrines, and preaching against liberals, communists who were taking over the Church, women who wanted to be anything other than a stay at home mother, drugs, pornography, abortions and people who were unpatriotic.
One of our hopes for our travels was to go to new places and see what’s going on in America. For me, this was a combination of a possibly awesome spiritual experience turned into a political instrument for conservative propaganda.
**So, as a follow up to my post, I did some research on Newspapers.com about the shrine and about Mary Ann Van Hoof. Apparently, the Catholic Church rejected Mary Ann’s claims of seeing the Holy Mother and felt that her claims were false. She and her followers were called a cult by the church in the 1970’s and were prohibited from receiving sacraments. She apparently formed her own church and formally severed relations with the Vatican in 1979. She even formed her own order of nuns. When she died in 1984, her son Richard Van Hoof vowed to continue her work.