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By VINCE LUECKE
A local parish church, home to a religious shrine for nearly 150 years, will welcome new pilgrims this year after being designated one of several holy sites within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin named the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation at St. Augustine Church in Leopold as one of the pilgrimage sites for the Year of Faith, which began Oct. 11, 2012 and will conclude Nov. 24, 2013.
The start of the Year of Faith marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
During the year-long celebration, Catholics are asked to study and reflect on the documents of the Vatican II and the Catechism to appreciate the gift of faith, deepen their relationship with God and strengthen their commitment to sharing their faith with others.
Visits to holy sites are a part of the Year of Faith tradition.
Other pilgrimage sites in southern Indiana include Saint Meinrad Archabbey and the archabbey’s church, St. Mary of the Knobs Church in Floyds Knobs; Holy Family Parish and the Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima at the Congregation of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, both in Oldenburg and the Church of the Immaculate Conception and Tomb of St. Mother Theodore Guerin at St. Mary-of-the-Woods.
The Rev. Brian Esarey, St. Augustine’s pastor, said the 1867 shrine of Our Lady of Consolation continues to draw visitors to pray before the statue of the Virgin Mary in the church as well as an outdoor shrine constructed around 1960 during the time the Rev. Raymond Moll was the parish’s pastor.
The parish’s devotion to the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Consolation reaches back to the Civil War. According to generations-old accounts, the shrine in Leopold fulfilled a vow made by three young men from the community, Henry J. Devillez, Lambert Rogier and Isadore Naviaux. All three served in the Union Army during the Civil War and were captured in 1864 in Mississippi. They were imprisoned at the Confederate prison at Andersonville, Ga. The prison became notorious for the thousands of men who died there of disease and starvation.
Henry Devillez, who had come to Perry County at the age of 14, remembered the devotion given to Our Lady of Consolation in his native Luxembourg. The three made a vow that, if delivered alive from the prison, they would return to Luxembourg to have a replica of the statue of Our Lady of Consolation made and brought to their home parish in Leopold.
Eleven months later, they were freed and the statue was brought back from Europe by Lambert Rogier, arriving in New York July 4, 1867.
Legend has it each man paid $5 toward the cost of the statue of the Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus.
The statue has become synonymous with the parish and its image is sometimes etched onto gravestones of people buried in the parish cemetery. The statue was absent during one period in its history when Father Boland, not knowing the background of the statue, packed it away in the attic. It remained there until 1927 when Father Pierce Dixon became pastor.
A New Outside Shrine
The outside shrine was restored over the past year by several people from the parish, including mason Charlie Richard and members of the Ed Guillaume family and their friends.
A spring dedication of the refurbished shrine is planned, though a date has not been set. Watch the News for details.
Other improvements are under way at the church, including tuckpointing of the church’s exterior and planned repainting inside the church and new carpet.
St. Augustine Church’s Mass times are 4 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. Wednesday and Friday.
Saint Meinrad Archabbey
The public is welcome to join the Benedictine monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, another holy site in the archdiocese, as they pray the Liturgy of the Hours and celebrate Mass.
Mass is celebrated each day in the Archabbey Church, at 7:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and at 9:30 a.m. Sundays. Visit www.saintmeinrad.org/visit-us/prayer-schedule-tours/ for a complete prayer schedule.