Recently the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe saw an occasion of great rejoicing on the fifteenth anniversary of the dedication of the Shrine Church. Pilgrims joined Cardinal Burke and the Shrine community in giving thanks to God for all the blessings since the church was consecrated on July 31, 2008. For one pilgrim, the day is an especially joyous occasion each year. Rosa, originally from Italy but a longtime resident of La Crosse, celebrated her eightieth birthday by attending the dedication in 2008, and has come back every year since.
For Rosa, an enthusiastically devout Italian Catholic, the opening of a classic shrine in her town was not to be missed. “I go to every church in town,” she explains. “I love any day that I go to one church or pick a saint and pray; you know, all Italian people are very devoted to going to church every day. My mother never missed one. So I try.”
At the dedication, Rosa felt divine grace at work in the celebration’s sacred beauty; as she recalls, “The first time, it [the day of dedication] was like a miracle that happened here in La Crosse.” She continues to find the Shrine a source of joy and inspiration: “The church reminds me of [an] Italian church, and the music, and the singing, and the choir, and the acoustic, they’re fantastic.” From a native of the country that gave the world so many treasures of Renaissance art, this is no small praise.
In a sense, the Shrine shares a “birthday” with this devoted pilgrim, a fact Rosa thoroughly appreciates: “I’m so honored that the Cardinal consecrated the Shrine on my eightieth birthday.” Her warm recollections of the dedication, and her devoted annual return on that shared “birthday” for fifteen years, underscore the value of setting aside days to celebrate. In recalling for us God’s many blessings, a day of celebration invites us to rejoice in His love and give Him thanks. This joy and gratitude can be multiplied by celebrating in community, whether in a small gathering, like a household, or in a larger assembly, such as at the Shrine’s anniversary Mass. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Ps 103:2)
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The 10th Anniversary Shrine Book is available online at FloresMariae.com