|Written by Servant Maria||0 Comments|
Bishop Baraga Shrine Offers Peace and Beauty to All
There are many hidden treasures in the U.P. and the Baraga Shrine is certainly one of them. The road to the Shrine is clearly marked with large Teepee’s visible just north of L’Anse on highway 41. But the short drive down a rather bumpy road (appropriately reminding one of the rough travels of Bishop Baraga) brings you to a large but usually empty parking lot. Many think there is nothing to see and drive away. But get out and walk a little ways. Most are surprised and many run back for their cameras when they get a glimpse of the ‘Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest.” The grand statue, six stories high, is a reminder to many of the heroic life of Bishop Baraga. Many who know and love Bishop Baraga are familiar with the spot.
The Bishop Baraga Shrine was erected in May, 1972 after years of planning, fundraising and labor by a group of dedicated people who had been inspired by the tireless missionary activity of Bishop Baraga. In the early days hundreds of people visited the Shrine which was clearly visible from highway 41 but is now obscured by the trees which have grown around it.. Eventually a restaurant and gift shop was built nearby to accommodate visitors. For many years the Shrine was a well known and popular spot for those in the U.P., around the country and even from around the world, especially those from Baraga’s native Slovenia. Today just a few people visit the monument throughout the summer, but those who plan to come and those who happen upon it, find it a special place.
The Baraga Shrine itself is certainly impressive enough to merit a visit and a pause on one’s journey, but the spot chosen for the monument likewise lifts the spirit. Situated on a cliff overlooking Keweenaw Bay, the land surrounding the Shrine is a place of beauty and peace. One easily understands how the Native Americans to whom Bishop Baraga ministered embraced the Christian faith so well. Their surroundings and their life close to the land brought them near to God before they had even heard the Gospel.. In many ways it is much harder to convert those in today’s busy and loud world than it was in the stillness of nature. A stop at this peaceful spot helps one to focus again on what is important in life. Near the Shrine are signs which teach those passing through more about Bishop Baraga and his heroic life.
Because prayer is so important to a missionary’s work, the land around the Baraga Shrine provides a few new opportunities for prayer. There is now a Stations of the Cross path and a Rosary Path on the land near the parking lot. (Plans are being made for a prayer path that reflects on the life of Bishop Baraga as well.) Behind the gift shop you will find a little hermitage where you may pause for prayer. Inside the gift shop, which is closed on Sundays but open Monday through Saturday, from 11-5, information is distributed not only about Bishop Baraga but about other aspects of our faith as well..
Pause for a moment at the Shrine and remember the great faith, charity and zeal of Bishop Baraga, or make a longer stop on the Missionary Center grounds, walk the prayer paths and pray in the little chapel. A visit to the Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest should not only fill us with admiration for the life of one who gave everything to bring the Gospel to the world, but also remind us of our call to do the same.
The Missionaries of the Liturgy owns and maintains the Missionary Center and the land around the Shrine, but not the Shrine itself, which is maintained by the Bishop Baraga Foundation.
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