Wisconsin seems especially devoted to the Blessed Mother. The most common focus of patronage for a parish in our area is Mary, under her various titles.
On Aug. 5, 2011, one of the newer shrines in Wisconsin received a special honor from Rome. The La Crosse Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was officially affiliated with the papal basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. The shrine may now grant a plenary indulgence — a promise of release from the punishment due to sin — to visiting pilgrims.
Wisconsin Marian shrines
· Schoenstatt Shrine, St. Vincent Palotti Church, 5310 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee
· Basilica of Holy Hill National Shrine of Our Lady, Help of Christians, 1525 Carmel Road, Hubertus
· Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 5250 Justin Road, La Crosse
· Our Lady of Good Help, 4047 Chapel Road, Champion
· Archdiocesan Marian Shrine, 141 W. 68th St., Milwaukee
· La Salette Shrine, 10330 336th Ave., Twin Lakes
The Shrine in La Crosse is very large. But shrines to Mary can be very small. For example, at least 30 roadside shrines — many dedicated to Mary — still dot the landscape of Door, Kewaunee and Brown counties. (An example can be found on the grounds of the Shrine at Champion.)
August is a month of Marian feast days: Our Lady of the Snow (marking the dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome) on Aug. 5; the Assumption; Our Lady of Knock (an apparition in Ireland) on Aug. 21; and the Queenship of Mary (Aug 22). The birthday of the Blessed Virgin is celebrated on Sept. 8.
So, in just the next month, there are plenty of reasons to honor Christ’s mother. But perhaps there is a better reason as we start to focus on the end of summer and a new school year: Mary prepared her son for his future, perhaps even sending him “off to school” at the local synagogue to learn his faith. She and Joseph certainly took Jesus on “road trips” to Jerusalem for major Jewish feast days: “Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover…” (Lk 2:12).
So as summer turns toward fall and the last family summer road trips are planned, perhaps parents would like to follow that example and take their children to some local sites of their faith. Several possibilities were listed in the July 1 Compass as a “Catholic Roadtrip Across Wisconsin” compiled by the five Catholic newspapers in the state. Above are some suggestions from that article, along with other Marian sites in the state.