Black Madonna Shrine & Grottos
is an example of what one man can do.
Ready? Let’s begin a walking tour of the Shrine & Grottos.
In 1927, Cardinal Glennon invited Franciscan Brothers from Poland to emigrate and establish a nursing home. One of these monks was Brother Bronislaus Luszcz.
Madonna in Poland
Growing up in Poland, Bronislaus saw pilgrims honor Mary, Queen of Peace and Mercy. People traveled to visit the shrine at Jasna Gora. This monastery and shrine has been a spiritual capital for hundreds of years. People come to commune with the Holy. There is an icon, a beautiful work of art, that inspires many. It is known as “The Black Madonna.” As a young man, Bronislaus embraced a great love and devotion for Mary. He brought this love to Missouri.
In 1937 Br. Bronislaus began his labor of love
Missouri offers scrubby, dense forests of oak, walnut, hickory and sycamore trees packed together over limitless rolling hills. The land can be overgrown with shrubs and inhabited with countless wild creatures. Clearing the land was a major task.
Bronislaus built a cedar chapel and placed a painting of Our Lady above the altar. Soon the chapel offered prayer services. It became a devotional center. People came from great distances to visit.
One Sunday evening in 1958 an arsonist set the alter on fire. The brothers did their best but the blaze consumed the chapel.
Okay, let’s walk about the Shrine & Grottos
Cross the bridge and look back. There’s a quick view of the open air chapel.
It’s an odd thing to see the last part first. In 1960, Br. Bronislaus suffered heat stroke. His final project was this grotto in honor of Our Lady of Fatima. This is just west of the bridge.
The grottos are built by hand. No power tools, no help. Native rock, from Old Mines, MO, seas shells and costume jewelry were donated by visitors and sent from foreign missions.
St. Francis Grotto
There are figurines of tiny creatures, sparkly bits, statues of bunnies, turtles are other creatures all around this grotto.
Up a hill, our next grotto is to honor Joseph.
Taking One Moment
The statues where made by artist Charles Bendel, May 1, 1890 – Feb. 24, 1978. He immigrated from Czechoslovakia and made his home in St. Louis, MO. It is said his favorite is a small work of a boy and his dog.
Return to Walk About
Following along the path the entire story begins to unfold . . .
Colored glass bits in the roof – so sunlight light shines on our sleeping friends.
Hikers find their way in winter because they can see this cross from a distance.
Br. Bronislaus built and rebuilt this grotto. It isn’t as fancy as the others. The white inlaid wall is from the original monastery chapel. Originally a picture was displayed instead of this statue.
There are plenty of stories about people misbehaving over the years. Drunks smashing cars through walls, vandals do mischief. Still this place is a marvel.
follow the path
Mother’s Sanctuary – Up the Hill – above the Grottos we’ve already visited
It’s quiet up here.
One more story:
The Happy Birthday Story.
I figure it’s time to go home now.
Shrine & Grottos -100 St. Joseph Hill Rd. Pacific, MO.
Summer Hours: daily 9-7 – Off Season Hours: 9-4 – (Call to verify) Phone:636-938-5361
see ya later.
love & love,