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Chapel of the Holy Cross - Sedona,
I first discovered the Chapel of the Holy Cross several
years ago. I packed the kids in the truck and we were wandering through Sedona
enjoying the red rocks and looking for a little back-road adventure. The huge
cross loomed up at us from Highway 179 and in awe and disbelief I turned up
Chapel Road to investigate. The setting was perfect, tucked into the red rocks.
The temptation to climb was almost irresistable. In fact, I believe I had to
pull the boys off the rocks more than once. We finally made it inside the chapel
and the austere beauty stopped me in my tracks. When I found that I had
forgotten to breathe, and remedied that situation, I counted children and was
relieved to find that no damage had been done (to the chapel, not the children).
I drank in as much of the serenity and simplicity as a
pre-teen and two teenagers would allow and stored it in my serenity bank to
return to when a quiet moment was needed. Then I turned the kids loose outside
again, to explore the tiny flower gardens and fountains for a few more minutes
before we continued with our little adventure.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross was the vision of artist
and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude. A student of the great southwest
architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Mrs. Staude had come into a large inheritance and
also enjoyed success as a religious painter and sculptor. She had a great desire
to give something back to the world as "a monument to faith, but a spiritual
fortress so charged with God, that it spurs man's spirit
After investigating several sites in Europe, Mrs. Staude
settled in Oak Creek, Arizona and became enchanted with Sedona. She saw
religious images in many of the rock formations, such as the Madonna and Praying
Nuns, and found it to be the ideal setting for her legacy.
"That the Church may come to life in the souls of men
and be a living reality - herein lies the whole message of this chapel."
Marguerite Brunswig Staude
For more information and to plan your
Chapel of the Holy Cross
780 Chapel Road
Sedona, Arizona 86336
Copyright 2008 Robyn Dolan
The Grotto - Portland,
A magnificent sanctuary of majestic fir trees, quiet caves and
refreshing waterfalls lies just minutes from downtown Portland,
Oregon. Amid 62 acres and 2 levels of breathtaking
gardens, scenic views and gentle streams are over a dozen
shrines, grottoes, chapels and monuments dedicated to the life, death and
resurrection of Jesus, and the sorrows of his mother, Mary. I
completely forgot I was in Portland, as I wandered peaceful paths, profuse with
flowers and shaded by towering trees. Even the incessant drizzle that is
Oregon seemed rather enchanting in this setting. The National Sanctuary of
Our Sorrowful Mother, as The Grotto is also known, began as a promise made
by a little boy as he prayed to the Virgin Mary for his mother's
life, who lay dying after giving birth to his little sister. His
mother (and sister) did live, and Father Ambrose Mayer embarked upon the
building of The Grotto many years later, with little more than faith and a
determination to keep his childhood promise.
We started out from the parking lot to the lower level
and were stopped short of the welcome center by one of it's most
spectacular features, Our Lady's Grotto, top picture. This is a
large, deep cave carved out of the rock face to hold a replica of
Michaelangelo's "Pieta", showing our Sorrowful Mother Mary holding the lifeless
body of her son Jesus, just removed from the cross. Below the sculpture is
an outdoor altar of native stone where Sunday Mass is celebrated Mother's
Day through September.
Also on the lower level is the Chapel of Mary, pictures above,
which features exquisite hand painted murals on walls and cielings, intricate
mosaics like the one of St. Anne above, and many works of Carrara marble,
including all the statues and the Stations of the Cross.
Now we purchase an elevator token at the gift shop and ride
10 stories up to the upper level gardens. Our first stop is the Meditation
Chapel, with its glass walled view of Portland, the Columbia River,
and Mount St. Helen's. Deep intake of breath. Were it not for
today's haze and drizzle we might see Mt. Rainier as well. If we came back
to this spot tonight, it would be lit up and visible as a large cross to those
travelling southbound on Interstate 205.
Now ready to begin our explorations, we enter St. Joseph's
Grove. It is guarded by a statue of St. Joseph holding the child
Jesus. A series of carved marble panels pays tribute to the joys and
sorrows of the man chosen by God to be the foster father and protector of His
Son Jesus during his childhood.
After contemplating the life of St. Joseph, we pass out of
this garden into the next. A sandstone monastery, with a convent behind
it, house the Servite friars and sisters who minister at The Grotto. The
Peace Pole, a gift from Japan, marks The Grotto as an international place of
peace. The meandering paths and trickling stream of the Peace Garden
provide the setting for the Mysteries of the Rosary, depicted on bronze plaques
and grouped into the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the life of
Mary, mother and most perfect disciple of Jesus.
Meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary in this way is most
refreshing; we are now ready to begin the Via Matris, or The Way of
Our Sorrowful Mother. Each of the seven scenes is meant to reflect upon a
particularly painful or difficult time in the life of the Holy Family. The
figures are housed in lighted glass cases, so that they may be enjoyed day or
night. We pass through this garden slowly and come out upon yet another
An authentic Lithuanian wayside shrine is dedicated to
those who fought for Lithuania's freedom during World War ll.
As we complete our tour of the upper level, the life-sized
bronze of St. Francis of Assissi reminds us of our own stewardship
We descend once again to the lower level, but not without first
stopping in again at the Meditation Chapel and drinking in the view.
We now walk the Stations of the Cross, contemplating the
suffering and death of Jesus, as we appreciate each bronze reminder, surrounded
by ferns and mosses, flowers and trees.
The bronze statue of Jesus carrying the cross gestures to the
top of the cliff, where His Sorrowful Mother watches over The Grotto
grounds and visitors.
Lastly we behold the shrine of St. Philip Benizi, who fled to a
cave in the mountains to escape being elected Pope. There he lived a life
of great prayer and penance. The fountain from which he drank is said to
have miraculous healing qualities.
Reluctantly we leave The Grotto and bravely face the hustle and
bustle of Portland. But with a difference. Because of the few
moments or hours spent there in the company of Our Lord and His Sorrowful
Mother, we carry with us a greater sense of peace and serenity and of our
calling to bring this gift with us into that world.
To plan your pilgrimage and for more information:
The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother
NE 85th and Sandy Blvd.
P.O. Box 20008
Portland, OR 97294-0008
Copyright 2005 Robyn
El Santuario - Chimayo, New
A wealthy landowner follows a mysterious
light to discover a crucifix uncovered by a flood on his property. When
taken by procession to the nearest church, several miles away, three times the
crucifix returns to its point of origin on the Don's property. In 1814,
Don Bernardo Abeyta finally receives permission to build a chapel on the
Privately owned by his descendants until
1929 when it was turned over to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, El Santuario de
Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas, or the Shrine of our Lord of Esquipulas, has been
called the Lourdes of America. Penitentes and Guadalupanas walk for 100
miles in pilgrimage to dig the sacred earth from El Pozito, the little well,
where Don Bernardo originally found the crucifix.
Strangely, with all the pilgrims who
come for the sacred earth, the well doesn't seem to get any deeper. Many
return after miraculous healings are received or other petitions are answered
favorably, to leave milagros , little tokens symbolizing the favor
received, at the statue of El Nino de Atoche or Our Lady of Guadalupe in
Handpainted altar screens in
the church have recently finished undergoing painstaking restoration.
Outdoor Stations of the Cross and several small shrines surround an outdoor
altar facing the river. The hills of El Potrero enclose the shrine and
gardens like a secret fortress.
Organized pilgrimages converge upon the
little valley in June and must be booked by the previous December. See the
shrine's website for details.
For more information and to plan your
Holy Family Parish
P.O. Box 235
Chimayo, NM 87522
Copyright 2005 Robyn Dolan
Mysteries of the
Rosary in Antonito, Colorado
At the southern end of the San Luis Valley,
nestled between the San Juan and Sangre de Christo Mountains, lies the town of
Antonito, Colorado. Just a few miles north of the New Mexico border, it is
the home of the historic Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. Farms and
ranches still dominate the landscape in this part of Colorado and some say the
best potatoes in the country are grown here.
The Crowning with Thorns
Antonito is also home to Jose and Lucy
Vigil. On the portion of their 7 acres that fronts Colorado Highway 285,
they have built a small chapel, the "Oratorio de Santa Familia y Juan Diego",
locally known as "El Santuario". The chapel is always open for prayer and
meditation. The focal point of the chapel is a statue of Our Lady of
Guadalupe. The windows and walls are adorned with handpainted
murals. Saint Michael the archangel, Juan Diego and others silently wait
to welcome visitors. Candles are available and donations are
The Agony in the Garden
Behind the chapel, a footpath meanders
alongside the river, handpainted slabs of flagstone command the pilgrim's
attention every few yards. Fifteen mysteries of the Rosary have been
erected along the river path, with the five Luminous Mysteries yet to
come. The walk is peaceful, exhilirating. The air is fresh, the sky
beautiful, the weather mild. The pilgrim might even find him or herself
the object of much animated discussion among Lucy's geese and
The Finding of the Child Jesus in the
One can walk the Mysteries in contemplative
silence; stop at each painting and pray the appropriate mystery; or simply enjoy
a unique and beautiful experience. While in Antonito, enjoy a ride on the
historic Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad; visit the adjacent city
of Conejos and stop by Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, "the oldest church in
Colorado"; or make the short hop to Alamosa to visit the Alamosa National
Wildlife Refuge and the San Luis Valley Alligator Farm.
El Santuario is located at 5118 South Hwy
285, Antonito, Colorado.
Copyright 2003 by Robyn Dolan
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