Monday, July 13, 2020

Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colorado


Last summer my husband and I finally took a ride up to the Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colorado. For years we had seen the statue in the distance on the top of a foothill, that you see in the photo above, from Interstate 70 whenever we returned home from a trip to the Rocky Mountains, and we'd both say: "someday we have to take a ride up there!"  Mother Cabrini, officially known as Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, was well known to us as the "Patron Saint of Immigrants," and was revered in New York City for her work as a missionary sister working to help Italian Immigrants in the late 1800s. In 1889, New York seemed to be filled with chaos and poverty, and into this new world stepped Italian born Mother Frances Cabrini and her missionary sister companions. Cabrini organized catechism and education classes for the Italian immigrants and provided for the needs of the many orphans. She established many schools and orphanages despite tremendous odds.

You can read more about her on the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus web site--the religious order which she founded in 1880.


Mother Cabrini also loved the mountains of Colorado and the foothills west of Denver held a special attraction for her. During her journeys in 1902 to visit the Italian workers and their families in the Clear Creek, Argentine, and South Park mining districts, Frances X. Cabrini discovered a property on the east slope of Lookout Mountain owned by the town of Golden. No reliable source of water was known to exist on the property at that time, although there were two fine barns and a springhouse built in the 1890s. In 1909-1910, she negotiated the purchase of this property as a summer camp for her charges at the Queen of Heaven Orphanage in Denver, Colorado. A farming operation, with poultry, other livestock, and dairy cows, was established and maintained by three of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart who set up living quarters in the loft of the larger barn. During the summer months, groups of about twenty girls, according to age, would spend several weeks at the summer camp. They enjoyed the freedom of the outdoors and recreational activities in addition to tending the animals and performing farm chores.



Please click on photo to enlarge

Mother Cabrini had established Queen of Heaven Orphanage in North Denver in 1902 to take care of orphans of Italian miners killed in accidents in Central City and Blackhawk.  It functioned for over 70 years.


In 1912 during Mother Cabrini’s last visit to the foothills, she and a builder, Thomas Eckrom, drew up the plans for the Stone House that would serve as a dormitory for the girls.  It was completed in 1914. Upon the closing of the Queen of Heaven Orphanage in 1967, the summer camp became a year-round retreat facility and a place for small prayer gatherings.



Moved by faith this land was bought by Mother Cabrini for the orphans but after her canonization as a saint in 1946, and her declaration as "Patroness of Immigrants" by Pope Pius XXII in 1950, it was also turned into a shrine to honor her.  It is now a peaceful place for people of all faiths to gather and reflect and enjoy its serenity.



To reach the top of the shrine one has to climb 373 steps on the Stairway of Prayer.  There are benches along the way in case you need to rest...


...and there are the 14 Stations of the Cross along the step's path on the ascent.


The stairway follows the path Mother Cabrini, the sisters, and the children took to the top of the mountain.


Each station's picture is made of stone mosaics made in Italy.


As one climbs the steps the city of Denver, can be seen in the distance!



It is quite a view! 



At the top of the hill is this beautiful 22-foot (6.7 m) statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, designed by Maurice Loriaux and mounted on an 11-foot (3.4 m) base, which was erected at the highest point of the site in 1954.




Inside the base of the statue is a statue of Mother Cabrini




In front of the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a heart made of stones enclosed in glass. On her last visit to Colorado in 1912, Mother Cabrini took several sisters and a few of the children from the orphanage by horse and buggy along a cow path to the foot of the highest hill. Leaving the buggy at the base, they climbed to the top where they gathered white stones and arranged them on the mountain in the shape of a heart surmounted by a cross; with the smaller stones, she formed a crown of thorns on the highest promontory, overlooking the city of Denver. Frances X. Cabrini dedicated the hill to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, naming it the “Mount of the Sacred Heart”. Those are the stones still present beneath the glass case and preserved for all to see.





This magnificent statue now looks down on the city of Denver in the distance ...



...and is surrounded by this natural beauty! If you look closely at the photo above, or click on it to enlarge it, you can see the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the distance.  Many people have placed benches at the top in the area around the statue as memorials to their loved ones.



After some prayer and reflection, we walked back down the steps. 


There is a chapel dedicated to Mother Cabrini on the grounds over the water grotto, As you can see by the sign by the altar her birthday is this week--July15th.



At the time the summer house was built for the orphans all of the water needed for drinking and cooking had to be brought up to the summer camp from the stream at the bottom of Mt. Vernon Canyon. In September 1912, the sisters complained to Mother Cabrini that they were dying of thirst and there was no water to be had. She answered, “Lift that rock over there and start to dig. You will find water fresh enough to drink and clean enough to wash.” The spring, which is housed in an 8,000-gallon tank, has never stopped running. Many pilgrims, through their faith, believe the water has brought healing and peace to their lives.  You can see the spigots where this water can be drawn in the photo collage above.

Please click on photo to enlarge

Also, on the grounds is a small museum filled with mementos of Mother Cabrini, including some of her clothes, her writing desk, and some letters.


The work of Mother Cabrini continues in her order.


Last fall my husband and I were invited to attend the 41st Jefferson County Historical Society's Hall of Fame ceremony, as we are members of our community's historical society.  We were pleased to see that Mother Cabrini was one of two "Hall of Fame" award winners for last year, for her good works in Colorado and the fact that her shrine attracts visitors from around the world.  A member of the Legendary Ladies group portrayed Mother Cabrini and told her life story at the ceremony.




This biography of Mother Cabrini and the Hall of Fame plaque will be displayed along with past winners at the Jefferson County, Colorado, Jefferson County Administration and Courts Facility in Golden Colorado.  It is a wonderful and well-deserved honor!

PS: Thank you to all who offered their condolences on the loss of my blog friend, Shelagh, last week.  It was hard to lose a friend who I've known so many years of blogging and who always had a pleasant and uplifting word for me. She will be truly missed!

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33 comments:

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Thank you for sharing this Pat. She was obviously a wonderful woman. Isn't it amazing how much good one person with determination, courage, and vision can accomplish! I really enjoyed reading about Mother Cabrini.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Pat

What a great post on Mother Cabrini, her shrine is a beautiful place to visit. There is so more there to see, the chapel, grotto and museum and statues are all beautiful. Also to run the orphanage and summer camp, she was an amazing woman. It was worth the visit and Climb up the stairs to the shrine and that gorgeous view. Thanks for sharing the story of Mother Cabrini, as the Patroness of Immigrants and saint. Take care! Enjoy your day, have a great new week!

Reidland Family said...

We have a similar statue of Christ near us. Mount Cristo Rey, Christ of the Rockies. I have never made the trip up the mountain and probably won't at this point in my life as it's quite a difficult climb. I enjoyed your photos. That's an incredible view.

Tom said...

...what a gorgeous setting!

Ruth Hiebert said...

Those are some spectacular views .

Jeanie said...

I love how you are reliving your road trips from the past -- such a good idea. This one is especially interesting and I learned a lot about this remarkable woman just through your post!

Janice Smith said...

Thank you for today's lovely post and photos. I always enjoy reading your posts.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Have hope.

Barb said...

Pat, I have never visited the shrine, though I have looked up to see it, passing on the Interstate. I've learned so much from your post. That was quite the climb up to the statues!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

It’s a lovely shrine. Goodness, Mother Cabrini accomplished a lot! (And her history interestingly ties together with your own background in New York and Colorado)... I can’t believe I have never heard of this Saint ... (or maybe I’ve just forgotten ... my Catholic grade school education was very long ago! )

rupam sarma said...

Great post. Amazing pics.

Sandra Nachlinger said...

Looks like a beautiful place. Thank you for posting the history along with your photos.

Janice said...

Thanks for the walk about on sacred grounds.

Gillena Cox said...

Lovely mosaics. Glad you got to vidit the shrine

Have a safe week
I am #18 on the linky

Much🌻love

Lady Fi said...

How unusual - and what a glorious view!

stevebethere said...

What a fab post with fantastic views :-)

Have a scenictasticsafe week 😷😷😷

NanaHood said...

How interesting! I'm a history buff and I loved reading this story! Thanks so much for sharing! Teresa from NanaHood

NCSue said...

This looks like a lovely, peaceful place in which to worship.
Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2020/07/sunflowers-beauty-on-stem.html

Dawn said...

Colorado has so much to offer and being on the East coast I really enjoy your post.
Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

Tanza Erlambang said...

impressive buildings, statues and views....I hope, I could visit this place one day.

Have a wonderful day

EricaSta said...

Mother Cabrini... never heard before. It was very interesting for me to read about. It's an amazing way. Thank you for sharing.

Have a good week.

Little Wandering Wren said...

I'm still impressed at skipping up the 373 steps to reach the top of the stairway of prayer! Lovely view of Denver at the top. I applaud Mother Cabrini's work! Great museum.

the 4 M's said...

Beautiful! I am trying to plan a getaway week but things are quite booked up. Need to spend some serious time searching today.
www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

Angie said...

Pat - what a wonderful spot for those children from the orphanage to spend time out of the city. And I love the story about finding the water under the rock - an almost modern-day Moses story! Thanks for sharing this inspirational information with all of us at Mosaic Monday!

betty-NZ said...

That's an interesting place with great views and lovely history.

Your support for 'My Corner of the World' is much appreciated! Thanks for your link this week.

Nanchi said...

Wonderful shots and beautifully written Travelogue. Thank you for sharing.

https://nanchi.blog/

Jim said...

Great sky shot.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

That is quite a sight. I'd love to visit that.

A Bit of the Blarney said...

It was good to visit Mother Cabrini's Shrine with you. I've not been there for a couple of years and since we've postponed our trip to Colorado this year, we'll not be visiting there this year either. It was a family tradition when I was growing up to make a pilgrimage to the shrine to pray and get the healing waters. I do enjoy traveling with you. God Bless and have a wonderful week!

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Wonderful history. Thanks for taking us up all those stairs and showing us the gorgeous view!

diane b said...

A wonderful story about an amazing woman. It is lovely to see the shrine and the way the stones have been kept. And how good are you walking up all those steps?

Rambling Woods said...

Love to learn....

Michelle said...

A wonderful history of Mother Cabrini and her work with immigrants. Thank you for linking up!

Buttercup said...

What a fabulous view and what interesting history. A number of years ago I was at a funeral for a colleague's mother. Part of her eulogy was that she had been raised in one of Mother Cabrini's orphanages. Take care!