A Special Feature of Southwest Illinois News
The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows is one of the largest outdoor shrines in North America. It was founded in 1958 by Fr. Edwin J. Guild, OMI, is located in Belleville, just fifteen minutes east of St. Louis. The 2,400 seats and grassy slopes at the Shrine's Amphitheatre can accommodate large crowds for special liturgies and events. Visitors of all faiths and denominations participate in numerous programs year round including pilgrimages, retreats, healing workshops, youth rallies, ethnic festivals and concerts.
The Millennium Spire is an 85 foot tall stainless steel sculpture rising out of a Candelarium built into a hillside above the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows' Amphitheatre. The Spire, by the late William Severson, a nationally renowned sculptor, was commissioned by the Shrine to create a symbol representing Pope John Paul II's vision of a new Pentecost.
It reflects the light of the sun during the day and is continually illuminated with light emitting diodes (LEDs) making it a beacon heralding the Third Millennium. Prayer and petition requests that are sent to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate through their web site (www.snows.org) are converted into a binary (numerical) language before they are symbolically sent upwards toward God on the network of LED lights built into the curve of the Millennium Spire.
The Shrine features many places for visitors to walk along beautifully landscaped pathways with memorials and sculptures or sit and reflect in quite solitude surrounded by dense groves of evergreens and pines. The Lourdes Grotto is a favority devotional site for visiting pilgrims. The complex includes an apartment community, Gift Shop, Shrine Restaurant and comfortable accommodations at the Shrine Motel. For more information about programs and events, call 618-397-6700 or 314-241-3400.
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