Not too long ago, I hinted around that my husband Mike and I actually had a date. Life was crazy, and we needed some alone time just to survive.
Thanks to Grandma Cynti for watching all 9 kids, we ran out the door as quickly as possible for an all day date. This is unheard of in our house!
We started the day off with lunch, enjoying the most delicious gluten free pizza ever! I especially enjoyed no one sitting in my lap (sorry Mike), stealing my food, or interrupting our conversations.
Next, we drove to Belleville, IL, to tour the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. Since today, August 5th, is feast day of Our Lady of the Snows, I thought this would be the perfect time to share our experiences!
We learned that the devotion to Our Lady of the Snows was brought to the midwest United States by the Missionary Oblates of Mary in 1941. This devotion to Mary is very old, one of the oldest, and originates from a miraculous snowfall that fell in Rome on a scorching hot summer day in August of 325 A.D. The snow fell in answer to a Roman couple’s prayers, guiding them to how they would use their money to build a church in Mary’s honor. The Basilica of St. Mary Major stands today on Esquiline Hill, where the miraculous snowfall occurred so long ago.
God has no limits to how He will surprise us with His love. Miraculous snowfall on a smoking hot day? Not a problem!
The Missionary Oblates of Mary began construction on the shrine in Belleville, IL, in 1958. At the center of the property is a large outdoor area to celebrate mass. At the top is a large M for Mary that is visible from all directions.
Behind the outdoor chapel are beautiful mosaics of the mysteries of the rosary. Here is one of my favorites:
Also behind the outdoor altar, on the inside was a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady. Windows of beautiful colored glass and skylights of icicles surrounded the ceiling, filling the chapel with natural light.
We viewed the millennium Spiral, a gorgeous shiny spiral of prayers going up to heaven in this new Millennia. Underneath, rows upon rows of candles are lit for prayer requests. It was breathtaking!
Mike and I rested at the foot of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, wishing we could take a nap. 🙂
We knelt to ask Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, to pray for our loved ones.
Finally, we followed the path of the Stations of the Cross, listening to the recorded reflections without interruption!
**I couldn’t help but add this picture of Mike sitting on a pole, listening to the Way of the Cross. Anyone care to make a caption? My personal favorite involves corn cobs, rear ends, you get the picture…. 😉
It was a beautiful day topped off with a glass of wine before heading home to the chaos.
Mother Mary, you know how much I hate cold, snowy weather! And yet, you let God use a miraculous snowfall to reveal His love to us. May your beautiful mantle protect us like a soft blanket of snow, cushioning our falls. Guide us to Jesus during all seasons of life. Amen.
Our Lady of the Snows, pray for us!
*This prayer is from my post Celebrating Mother Mary.