A pilgrimage is described differently depending on who you ask. Some say it is any journey to a religious place; some add it must be a long journey. Others describe it as visiting a sacred place with the purpose of reflection and prayer. I recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin, by today’s travel standards a far cry from a long journey coming from Illinois. I didn’t originally consider myself on a pilgrimage, but by definition, that’s exactly what it was, for in the serene wooded surroundings devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe, I found myself in deep reflection and devotion.
To reach the Shrine Church and the devotional sites, you must walk up a winding, wooded road. (A golf cart ride is available for those unable to walk a long distance.) A short way up the ascent you reach the Mother of Good Counsel Votive Candle Chapel, a limestone chapel with stained glass windows devoted to Our Blessed Mother and a pyramid of 576 votive candles.
At the top of the hill, about a 15 minute walk, the Shrine Church comes into view, its campanile reaching to the sky. The ornate interior of the church is Italian inspired, with pillared arches, marble, stained glass windows and a mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Tours of the church are offered daily.
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Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe devotional sites
On the grounds around the church are several devotional sites. You can walk the half-mile winding path of the Stations of the Cross, take the Rosary Walk and visit the Memorial to the Unborn or sites devoted to other saints.
Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe gift shop and cafe
Back down at the bottom of the hill, stop into the Pilgrim Center to browse the Flores Mariae Gift Shop and enjoy a meal at the Culina Mariana Café. The café serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is located at 5250 Justin Road, La Crosse, Wisconsin. Check the web site for hours, tour times, Mass schedule and other details.
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