Last Saturday (10/23/09) Molly and I were able to arrange for my parents to watch the kids while we took a trip to LaCrosse, WI to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This was super exciting for us, as we had long wanted to visit the Shrine, not only for great opportunities for prayer but also to see the stunning architecture and beautiful art. Duncan Stroik, a classical architect from the University of Notre Dame who is renewing the Catholic tradition in sacred architecture, designed the Shrine, and Anthony Visco created much of the sculpture and paintings that are at the Shrine. This is as good a one-two punch as the Catholic Church in the U.S. can get.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is given the title "Patroness of the Americas" by the Church because of her fundamental role in the conversion of Mexico to Christianity. For background on the 1531 apparition of Mary to St. Juan Diego, I highly recommend doing the following:
1. First watch the movie Apocalypto, which sets the context of what was occurring in the early 16th century in Mexico just prior to when Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego. The seemingly endless daily slaughter of thousands of innocent people as sacrifices to false Gods was rampant.
2. Read the short book (119 pages) called Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness, which reads like a gripping novel and describes how the Spanish came to Mexico and what they found when they arrived and how Our Lord used the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to cause the conversion of millions to Christianity.
If you have less time, here is a good link with the story of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and here's a recent reminder of the fact that the image Mary left in Juan Diego's tilma is truly miraculous and "Completely beyond scientific explanation."
We once again put our camera and camcorder to good use when we were at the Shrine, and I put together the following summary of our visit:
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!