Our Lady of The Holy Rosary, Pray for Us!

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

October 7 is the date set aside on the liturgical calendar for the Feast of the Rosary. This Feast is known under several titles including: “Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary,”, “Our Lady of Victory,” and “Feast of the Holy Rosary.” Historically, this feast celebrated the intercession of Our Lady, via the Rosary, in the Battle of Lepanto. As a result of this 16th Century naval battle the invading Turkish forces retreated and Christianity in Western Europe was secured.



In 1571 Pope St. Pius V attributed the victory to the Holy Rosary which was prayed throughout Europe, especially as the battle was waged. It was he, who instituted the feast under the title of “Our Lady of Victory.” Later, in 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of the Memorial to “The Feast of the Holy Rosary;” and Pope Clement XI extended its celebration to the entire Latin, officially inserting it into the Roman Calendar of Saints in 1716. While initially celebrated on the first Sunday in Rome, in 1913 Pope Pius X changed the date to October 7.

Hail Full of Grace. . . SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 EA photo

Throughout the centuries, the Rosary has been a powerful tool, a tool we would do well to use each and every day. Through this inspired prayer, we contemplate the salvific action of Our Lord by meditating on a series of mysteries, while praying sequence of “Our Father,” “Hail Mary,” and “Glory Be” prayers. The succession of prayers and mysteries works together to draw Our hearts closer to Christ through the message of the Angel Gabriel to Our Blessed Mother, at the moment of the Annunciation: “Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in muleribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui.”(Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb). As our hearts beat in unison with Our Lady’s, we contemplate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Oceans of grace are poured out upon us. Through this magnificent prayer miracles abound, both in the past and present.

Candle light Vigil October 8, 2011, Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

One such celebration of the grace which accompanies the Holy Rosary has been an annual favorite of mine for years. Tomorrow, in Champion, Wisconsin my family and I will be present during the Vigil Celebration of the Anniversary of the Night of the Miracle of the Pestigo Fire. For the next two days we will celebrate an event that occurred in 1871, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. This is the only Vatican recognized, Bishop approved, Marian apparition site in the U.S. On this night, in 1871, a terrible hurricane of fire consumed an area of northern Wisconsin equal in size to the State of Rhode Island. Approximately 2,500 settlers lost their lives, many more were burned badly, and the loss of crops and livestock was enormous.

Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, October 8, 2011 Vigil Celebration © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

This intense wall of fire actually jumped Green Bay, and burned not only the area around Pestigo, but also part of the Door County Peninsula. Almost 10 years to the day of the fire, Our Lady had appeared to a young immigrant woman, Sr. Adele Brise, warning her that people needed to turn back to God. On this terrible night, October 8, 1871, area settlers remembered the warning, and fled to the tiny Chapel with their families and livestock. They prayed the rosary on their knees in procession. As the smoke would choke them, they would turn and process in another direction. Their efforts continued throughout the night. In the morning, a rain began to fall, and in the light of dawn the reality of the miracle became evident. The five acre site of the Chapel, and all who had prayerfully sought refuge there were safe. The Shrine stood as an “emerald Isle in a sea of ash.” Even the fence posts bore witness to the miracle: they were charred on the side facing the fire, yet perfectly intact on the side facing the Chapel.

Holy Mass October 9, 2011 Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. the Vigil celebration begins with the reading of the history from the Chapel history book, followed by an outdoor candle-lit rosary procession, Benediction and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. This event deeply touches my heart, the rustle of corn in nearby fields, the scent of a distant fire, the chill of the air, the voices in prayerful harmony, together create a deep impression of the magnitude of what transpired on the night of October 8, 1871. The following day, Holy Mass is celebrated in memory of this incredible miracle.

Bishop David L. Ricken, Bishop of Green Bay, Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Holy Mass, October 9, 2011 SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

For more information on Sr. Adele, the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, and the Miracle, visit their website at: http://www.shrineofourladyofgoodhelp.com/.

Tomorrow night, as we process around that same 5 acre site praying the rosary, I will remember each of you and your intentions in my heart. May Our Lady lead you to her Divine Son!

Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!


Ad Jesum per Mariam,


Where Then is a House You Could Build for Me?

Heaven is My Throne and Earth is My Footstool…. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest (Isaiah 66:1)?”

There is something about stately, old, Catholic churches that captures my heart. Like our faith itself, they have weathered the test of time. The romantic in me loves to ponder how our founding fathers (and mothers) labored with love to build and furnish these beautiful houses of worship. I stand in awe when I contemplate their daily struggle on the farm, in the shop, and on the homestead – absent the modern conveniences of running water, electricity, and telecommunication, and how in spite of the daily chores they still managed to create these timeless treasures.

The Catholics who established these early parishes are my heroes! Their lives were difficult, but armed with pure faith they sought to build churches that gave God glory, and raised the hearts and minds of their progeny to contemplate His Divine Majesty. They didn’t rely on liturgical design experts or capital campaign managers; no consensus building committees were required here. Rather, they prayed hard, and relied upon their own God-given talents to render from wood and stone a house of worship for their Divine Creator. From the expensive stained glass to the pristine construction, these buildings were fashioned to demonstrate tremendous gratitude to God for His Divine Providence.

Timeless Treasures © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

The early faithful were willing to forgo necessities – a pair of winter boots, a little more coal, a second work dress, a winter jacket without holes, in order to provide suitable places for the celebration of the greatest miracle on earth- the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As such their lives revolved around the rhythm of the liturgical year and its celebrations- the daily Mass, rosary, solemnity and feast day celebrations, Eucharistic Adoration, and processions brought the community together to bond in Christ while experiencing His eternal love in Word and Sacrament. The earthly remains of these Catholic pioneers often rest in consecrated land amid the shadows of the churches the labored to construct.

Today, my family and I had the opportunity to stop and pray for a moment in one of these gems. We were traveling, and had been praying the Morning Divine Office for today’s Feast of the Guardian Angels. I had just finished praying the line in the intercessions:

“Send St. Michael, the prince of the heavenly host to aid your people, may he defend them against Satan and his angels on the day of battle.”

Pristine and Pure Against the Autum Sky © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

As I looked out the window, we were passing St. Michael’s Catholic Church, and the front door was open! I had attended Mass in this lovely old church many years ago, but lately it has not been open as frequently. My husband interpreted my squeal of joy appropriately and made a sharp turn into the parking lot. All ten of us piled out, and sheepishly entered the old white wooden church. As we knelt in prayer by the steps of the sanctuary, gazing up at the tabernacle, flanked by a statue of the Sacred Heart and St. Michael on one side and Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the other, I thanked God for beauty of the moment.

“How Beautiful are the Feet of He Who Preached the Gospel of Peace. ..” © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 EA Photo

The reality of St. Michael’s Church exceeded the romantic notion of my distant memory. Two ladies were cleaning the church with the same affection and attention to detail that had motived the early settlers. One confided to me that each week while cleaning, she lovingly dusted the feet of Jesus on the Sacred Heart Statue. She quipped that it would be a shame to arrive at the pearly gates and receive a less than warm welcome for neglecting her duty to clean well Our Lord’s feet.

Lasting Beauty © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 EA Photographer

As we chatted for a moment with the caretakers, we learned that St. Michael’s was built 126 years ago. The lovely prayer lines worn in the wood of the pews touched my heart. The church is now closed during the winter months as it is costly to heat and there are so few visitors to this peninsula during those months. However, the Diocese of Green Bay recognizes the beauty of this sacred space and maintains it lovingly for less frequent worship. What a joy for my family to have the opportunity to pray where generations have prayed before. The doctrine of the Communion of Saints truly becomes palpable when one visualizes the labor of love rendered by the hands of those faithful children of God who sat in these pews 126 years ago, and whose mortal remains are buried in the adjacent cemetery.

Zeal For Your House Fills Me O Lord! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 EA Photographer

As we knelt once again in prayer before we continued on our journey, I thanked my guardian angel and St. Michael for leading us to the sanctuary of this lovely old church, and I thanked God for preserving it for my children to experience with gratitude and joy.

Happy Feast of the Guardian Angels! May they protect us with devotion, and may God reward them for their loyal diligence.

Labor of Love © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 EA Photographer


Ad Jesum per Mariam,