About the Shrine
Our Lady of the Woods Shrine is a mountainous structure of limestone 42 feet tall and 120 feet wide portraying five apparitions of Our Lady. As you walk around the exterior of the structure, they are represented by statues depicting appearances at Lourdes, Fatima, La Salette and Guadalupe. Three grottos are also embedded into the structure: the Family Shrine, the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, and the Shrine of St. Anne. The very name, Our Lady of the Woods, reflects the thousands of acres of God’s beautiful and majestic forests sprawled in all directions around the Shrine.
The Shine, which draws thousands of pilgrims and visitors every year, was conceived in the 1940s by the first priest at St. Mary Catholic Church in Mio and was dedicated in September of 1955.
Our Lady of Lourdes
This stunning depiction is the centerpiece of the Shrine and reenacts one of the most famous appearances of Our Mother. In 1858, Our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in a cave outside of Lourdes, France while she was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend. Seventeen more apparitions were reported that year, the final being the revelation of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
Our Lady of La Salette
One of the lesser known Marian apparitions, Our Lady appeared to two children tending sheep in La Salette-Fallavaux, France in 1846. They described her as sitting with her face buried in her hands, weeping as she spoke about the heaviness her Son bears for those who take his name in vain and work on the Sabbath.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Our Lady of Fatima
In 1917 three shepherd children were visited on six occasions by Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal. They described her as "more brilliant than the sun." On the sixth appearance, a crowd of 30,000 to 100,000 followed the children to the site of the prearranged apparition and witnessed "the sun dancing in the sky," appearing as an opaque, spinning disc casting multicolored lights across the landscape.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
This depiction of Mary speaking to the Aztec Indian Juan Diego shows Mary with radiant beams casting about her in all directions. This iconic symbol of Mary represents the image left behind on his cloak in which he gathered roses to deliver to the bishop as proof of her appearance. It was the first known appearance of Our Lady since her death, and took place outside Mexico City in 1531.
Mary appeared to Friar Simon Stock in 1251 in Aylesford, England. Stock, a friar of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was presented with a scapular as a sign of privilege to all God's children who wear it along with a promise to be preserved from eternal fire. Stock established the Carmelite order, which spread far and wide.
The Family Shrine
In October, 1956, plans were started to add The Family Shrine. The decision was to place the grotto for the Holy Family on the back side because there was a need for more candle space. In addition, St. Anne de Beaupre (the Canadian National Shrine) was added and would tie in beautifully with Our Lady of Guadalupe (the Mexican National Shrine). This would complete the Northern American portion of the Shrine and remind all that the individual family is the basic unit of all society and every community. First-class relics of St. Anne, St. Anthony of Padua, and St. Francis of Assisi are embedded within the walls of this grotto.
Our Lady of Czestochowa
Inside this grotto is a mosaic donated in May of 1958 by the Americans of Polish Extraction from the Polish Council of Detroit. The mosaic is based on a painting of Mary attributed to St. John the Apostle shortly after Christ's death, and is referred to as the "Black Madonna." The original painting currently resides in the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland, and is attributed to many miracles.
St. Anne de Beaupre
The mother of our Blessed Virgin, Anne de Beaupre, who was barren and advanced in years, prayed to conceive a child. An angel appeared and told her that she would conceive and that "thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world."
The Pieta Sanctuary
Probably the Shrine's most sacred and holiest grotto, this sanctuary contains a replica of Michelangelo's Pieta, depicting Mary's most sorrowful moment. On either side of the grotto are stained glass windows imported from Germany.
Other Statues of Veneration
Christ the King
Greeting all visitors to the Shrine is the statue of Christ the King, made from Carrara marble imported from Italy. It is not only fitting but symbolic that this statue introduces us to such a beautiful shrine honoring Mary, His mother.
The Crucifixion of our Lord
A place of honor is reserved on the Shrine grounds for the greatest act of love the world has ever known. Surrounded by marble plaques depicting the Stations of the Cross, this area is used in one of the most poignant features of the Shrine's annual Feast of the Assumption.
The Assumption of Mary
Majestically placed on the west side of the Shrine, this statue's commanding presence begs all who gaze upon her to stand in awe to and honor of the Mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ. From her Immaculate Conception to her Assumption into heaven, Mary has been not only the Mother of the Redeemer, but the Mother of the Redeemed as well.
After his wife died during child birth, Hubert retreated to the woods and gave himself entirely to hunting. On Good Friday he spotted a magnificent buck whose antlers were configured in the image of a cross. A voice addressed him promising he was destined for hell unless he turned to the Lord. He immediately converted to Christianity and became a priest. His statue is included in the Shrine to remind the deer hunters of Northern Michigan of their patron saint.
Infant of Prague
The history of the Infant of Prague started in the 17th century when a statue of the Infant Jesus was brought into Bohemia, which is now the Czech Republic. It was eventually given to the Discalced Carmelites in Prague and has since remained in Prague drawing the faithful from around the world to honor the Holy Child. Many graces, blessings, answered prayers and miraculous healings have been received by many who petitioned before the Infant Jesus.
One of our most beloved saints, Saint Francis of Assisi was renowned for drinking and partying in his youth. During a battle between Assisi and Perugia, he was captured and imprisoned. After his release, he heard the voice of Christ, who told him to repair the Christian Church and live a life of poverty. He obeyed.
Later in life, Francis reportedly received a vision that left him with the stigmata of Christ. He is the patron saint of animals and the environment.