Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Visit to National Shrine of Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC

Well, Pope Benedict has visited America and gone back to his home in Rome. While he was here, I noted in the news reels that the Pope visited the National Shrine of the Virgin Mary in Washington, DC. Hey, I've been there. Though I grew up just outside the Beltway around Washington, I don't ever remember visiting the shrine. So, a few years ago, I decided to go downtown DC, and tour some of the Catholic sites that my grandparents used to visit. In my previous entry, I listed my grandparents and my great grandparents on my pedigree. Four of my eight great grandparents were Roman Catholics, that's essentially my mother's ancestors. When my aunt Helen was baptized around 1919, the Austel family came down from Braddock, PA, to Washington, DC, and joined the Gailliot family for the event. They also took the opportunity to tour one of the family's favorite Catholic sites: The Franciscan Monastery and its replica of the Lourdes Grotto. I have pictures of their trip. Matter of fact I was going to take my own picture at the Grotto and put it in my photo album next to that of my grandparents picture.

On the way to the Franciscan Monastery, I passed the grandiose Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and decided to take a tour inside and take some photographs with my new digital camera. The Shrine was built in the years after my aunt was baptised in 1919, and it took decades to build. During the Depression when money was scarce, school kids collected pennies and donated them to the construction. There are other facts about the Shrine that I learned from a brochure (it's around here some place). But now that I was into genealogy and family history, I was remarked by the statue of the patroness saint of immigrants. You didn't know there was one? Yes, she is St. Frances Xavier Cabrini as shown below. She was an Italian immigrant herself and was sent by the Pope to New York to minister to the thousands of Italians who were arriving in America.

Another Saint I have to admire, for she is certainly a Saint for our times, is Saint Kateri (Katherine) Tekakwitha. See below. She was an Indian who was almost blind and worshipped out in the forests. Though I am hardly that devoted to be considered a saint, I too find that I am closest to God when I am out in Nature, far from the maddening crowd. I believe that many of us in the future will be praying to St. Tekakwitha to help us save the environment. So pray, and work toward a smaller "carbon footprint"

Other References:
St. Cabrini
St. Takakwatha

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