Our Lady of Sorrows, Starkenburg, Missouri, USA
|The shrine complex of Our Lady of Sorrows overlooks the rolling farmland west of St. Louis. This peaceful place is
home to a bewildering array of different chapels and representations of the
Blessed Mother, with a tangled and miraculous history. The first Germans who
settled here in 1847 worshipped in a barn, in which they placed a statue
known as the Weisse Dame (White Lady). In 1852, the statue moved to
the log Church of St. Martin, and in 1873, to a new stone church. A few
years after taking charge of the parish in 1877, Franciscans replaced the
statue with a larger one, storing the old
White Lady in an attic. In the fall of 1887, a new pastor came from Germany,
bringing his nephew, August Mitsch, to serve as sacristan. In May, August
discovered the old statue and made a shrine for it under a blooming dogwood.
As more people came to the shrine, August and his friends built a log hut to
protect the statue, and then a little octagonal log chapel complete with
German stained glass and bell. Then in 1890, the parish acquired a replica
of Wilhelm Achtermann's PietÓ in Muenster Cathedral (destroyed in WWII, copy
in S. Prassede, Rome). They placed it in the chapel, and once again the
aging White Lady moved to an attic. The Sorrowful Mother shrine became a
popular place of devotion. In the spring of 1891, the area received so much
rain that farmers couldn't harvest their wheat. It was still pouring on June
21, when the pastor, George Hoehn, vowed an annual pilgrimage to the
Sorrowful Mother, if the rains would stop. The next morning, clear skies
heralded a sunny summer, in which crops were harvested and the rain-delayed church renovation completed.
PietÓ (National Register of Historic Places Inventory,
|The first annual pilgrimage was held at the thanksgiving services on the
feast of the Nativity of the Virgin on September 8. An opposite situation
occurred in 1894: a terrible spring drought. Farmers burned candles to the
Sorrowful Mother, praying for rain. On the night of June 24-25, the chapel
caught fire. Everything burned but the Pieta and its veil. Rain followed
this miracle, and again the harvest was saved. Meanwhile, a Lourdes Grotto
was built on the grounds, with statues of the Immaculate Virgin and St.
Bernadette, but unlike the French pilgrimage site, lacking water. With
prayers to Mary, despite general skepticism, Fr. Hoehn ordered a well dug.
On September 3, 1900, the diggers struck a source. Before long the restored
chapel couldn't hold all the pilgrims. Parishioners quarried building stones
and moved the old Sorrowful Mother Chapel north. Father Hoehn broke ground
for a new chapel in the sacred spot July 28, 1906. For its dedication in
1910, the PietÓ was placed at a side altar, and the old White Lady, in new
paint and robe, restored to the main altar. A standing statue of Our Lady of
Sorrows, her heart pierced by swords, occupies the small log chapel.
Additional shrines on the grounds include a Mount of Olives, Way of the
Cross, Holy Sepulcher, and grotto of St. Isidore, patron of farmers. There
are two annual pilgrimages, the third Sunday in May and the second Sunday
in September. (Information from the shrine's site,
www.historicshrine.org, and other sources.)
Also celebrated this date:
|Nossa Senhora da ExpectašŃo, Olinda, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. Statue in
St. John the Baptist Church wept, 1719.|
|Panny Marie Ochranitelky, Svatř Hostřn, Moravia, Czech Republic (St.
Mary the Protector). Church consecrated, 1748.|
|Madonna della Neve, Castelluccio Inferiore, Potenza, Basilicata, Italy.