The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

Photo Series: Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Candles in the Chapel. Photo taken by Trinity Rietmann.

 The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe hosts many visitors from across the United States, but residents of La Crosse are lucky to have this location right in our backyard. Some visitors come to enjoy the peacefulness of a natural space, while others see their lives change because of the Shrine. 

“I can personally attest to this place changing my life,” Alice Schreiner, UWL graduate and digital marketer for the Shrine said. “I am just one of the very, very many people who have been powerfully impacted by this place.” 

One reason people visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is because of the significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Catholic narrative. 

In Mexico City in 1531 an apparition of the Virgin Mary, also known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, appeared to Saint Juan Diego, an indigenous man who had converted to Catholicism. She told him to go to the bishop and build a chapel for her Son, Jesus. The bishop wanted a sign to prove that Juan Diego’s story was true, so when Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego again she told him to pick roses at the top of the hill. 

Roses were not in season, but they were blooming there anyway, and Juan Diego gathered them in his tilma, which is a garment worn by the people at that time. When he revealed the roses to the bishop, an image had appeared on the tilma depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

“He looks down, and on this tilma, this plain cactus woven thing, is a beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as she appeared to him,” said Schreiner. “It’s a miracle that is still to this day unexplainable by science.” 

The color and pigments of the image, which should have faded, and the material itself, which should have deteriorated, are all intact and in good condition to this day. The image is also filled with symbolism, including a black sash around Our Lady of Guadalupe’s waist signifying pregnancy along with a center part in her hair which identified her as a virgin. 

“Even the stars in her mantle… it maps out to the stars that were in the sky on December 12, 1531,” said Schreiner. 

The original tilma is still located in Mexico City, but the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse is another location to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

The Shrine offers a variety of services to visitors. When one arrives, they can visit the Pilgrim Center which hosts a gift shop and cafe. From the Pilgrim Center, one can walk the Meditation Trail. It is a paved, half mile walk through nature that winds up to the Shrine Church. 

Along the trail, one will pass devotional areas dedicated to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and Saint Joseph the Workman along with the Votive Candle Chapel. Seven hundred candles fill the chapel, and anyone is welcome to light a candle for a prayer or intention. 

“This [the Chapel] is a place for people to come bring their intentions,” said Schreiner. “The candles are lit with a lot of meaning and a lot of hope.” 

Schreiner also found a lot of peace in journaling at the Chapel. “Back when I was in college… I would bring my journal here, and this was my journal spot,” she said.  

Another one of her favorite places to journal was the Memorial to the Unborn, which honors the children lost before childbirth whether through miscarriage or abortion. 

Past the Memorial to the Unborn are the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary Walk. 

“During Lent a lot of people will do Stations of the Cross,” said Schreiner. “They’ll walk through the story of when Christ is sentenced and gets his cross all the way to his death and burial… just as an additive reflection of the whole thing.” 

Stations of the Cross is a short loop with 14 stops which hold bronze statues telling the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, and the Rosary Walk holds four alcoves with mosaics displaying the Mysteries of the Rosary. 

“The artwork is just incredible,” said Schreiner. “It just makes me feel some way.” 

The Shrine Church is also filled with artwork. A large mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe is displayed behind the altar, and the walls of the nave are lined with depictions of important Saints. 

“Saints are people who have lived extraordinary lives and are confirmed to be in heaven,” Schreiner said. “People will often have different devotions to the stories of these Saints and a lot of people lean on them for strength or motivation.” 

People are welcome in the Shrine Church at any time to reflect, but Mass, Confession and Adoration are held daily. 

“Adoration is typically when the church is the most silent,” said Schreiner. “It is an opportunity for people to come and adore and be in a state of gratitude with the Blessed Sacrament out while the Eucharist is out in a display.” 

The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine, and it is displayed for the hour of Adoration. 

“It’s so nice to just sit with God for an hour and let your mind go,” Schreiner said. “Some people will journal, some people bring prayer books, some people just sit there and think, pray, sit, kneel, whatever they need to do in those moments.” 

The times for Mass, Confession and Adoration can be found on the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s website along with times for other devotionals and events coming up. 

“I think that they [students] would be amazed at all of the peace that they would find here,” said Schreiner. “So come. Come with whatever you have. Everybody has things that they bring in, and just take some time to look around at the world and try to see what God’s saying to you.” 

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About the Contributor
Trinity Rietmann
Trinity Rietmann, Photojournalist
  • Year at UWL: Junior
  • PGPs: she/her/hers
  • Hometown: Baraboo
  • Major: Art Education
  • Minor: Photography and Recreation Management
  • Other Campus Involvement: Women's Rugby Team
  • Future Plans after Graduation: Become an art teacher
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Hiking at the Bluffs
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