The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows is dedicated to sharing the gifts of healing and hope through Christ’s love. Since the first perpetual novena to Our Lady, the devotion has swelled into an awe-inspiring display of adoration.
In April of 1943, Fr. Paul Schulte, O.M.I., and Fr. Edwin Guild, O.M.I., of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, began the annual tradition that remains strong to this day. These Oblate Fathers promoted the first perpetual novena to Our Lady of the Snows at St. Henry’s Seminary in Belleville, Illinois. The novena was moved outdoors as the devotion to Our Lady of the Snows grew, with the first Solemn Outdoor Novena held in 1951.
Thousands of pilgrims made their way to the annual novena to pray for God’s blessings. The Oblates quickly realized that St. Henry’s would not be able to sustain the amount of traffic that the novena was receiving each year. They began to seek out a site to build a shrine in Mary’s honor.
In 1958, 80 acres of land was procured for that purpose. Soon thereafter, a newly-formed Lay Association, whose members took an active role in the development of the Shrine, proved dedicated and generous after 20 more acres were purchased for the creation of the Shrine.
Construction began. Devotional areas were sprinkled throughout the property. Trees, bushes, and flowers were placed throughout the land, enhancing the natural beauty that already was in existence. Sites that we have come to love were created, such as the Lourdes Grotto, Way of the Cross, the Outdoor Amphitheatre, chapels, and rosary courts. With time, even more land was purchased in order to reach completion – the results are what you can see today when visiting the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
The first novena held on the grounds of the Shrine was in 1961 at the Lourdes Grotto, a source of devotion for millions who visit. In 1962 – when the Outdoor Amphitheatre was completed – approximately 45,000 worshipers gathered during the annual nine nights of adoration. The Oblates had recognized the need for fellow followers of Christ to find refuge in Christ’s love – to hand over their grief and to embrace much needed hope.
Healing and Hope. These two simple words cradle the intentions of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. While simple, the words hold profound meaning. People come to the Shrine for healing – whether it is emotional, spiritual, or physical – and they leave with hope that they will have the strength to overcome personal and familial trials.
The Shrine is a place of inspiration and joy. Relationships with God are strengthened in this special place. During the Annual Healing and Hope Novena, people of faith join together to spend dedicated time in prayer and devotion to Our Lady of the Snows and Our Lord. Spanning the length of nine days, the novena begins on July 28th and ends on August 5th, the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Snows.
This time of prayer is a source of inspiration and joy for those who gather at the Shrine. Outdoor liturgies burst with song in the Outdoor Amphitheatre while daily prayers, focusing on themes of healing and hope, prove to be both inspiring and serene for pilgrims. The novena is the perfect place to offer one’s burdens to God – and to walk away with His guiding light of hope.
The Shrine invites anyone who yearns for revitalization and for a deeper relationship with God to attend the novena. Come experience the feelings of healing and hope that run through the grounds at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. If you cannot join us physically this year, please join us spiritually!
For more information concerning the Annual Healing and Hope Novena, please visit www.snows.org/novena.