DAILY CATHOLIC   Monday, February 2, 1998   volume 9, no. 28



The official link between Our Lady and America

      During this week leading up to the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on Wednesday, we decided to search sites featuring Our Lady of Lourdes. We found a few, most notable the one from France at www.bonjour.com/wta/Lourdes, however even this one did not fully depict the Lourdes story as much as we will this week in the Daily CATHOLIC. Therefore, after prayer we were guided to come home - to America. Why not? It is one of the sites we've had listed in our Ports o' Call Links section for some time and, though carries no links section per se, we feel it is important to share this site with others, especially in light of all the shenanigans going on in this very same city where the shrine resides. Also, when one considers the drastic and alarming buildup and dispersal of troops to the gulf region for another possible confrontation with Saddam Hussein and Iraq, we are reminded of the messages imparted to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart after the first Gulf War in 1991 in which Our Lady imparted the warning to beware of the false peace and be leary - for the next time we attack the results will not be the same. The political, spiritual, moral and even cultural climate has changed immensely over seven years and today we are prone for a huge "upset" if we persist in attacking. Therefore, it is only fitting that we turn to the protectress of America for help. That, of course, is Mary, the Mother of God who was officially declared patroness of America by Pope Pius IX in 1847 under the title of her Immaculate Conception. This was seven years before he proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception and eleven years before Our Lady confirmed it to the world at Lourdes. It had already been proclaimed by Bishop John Carroll decades before, and it was a decades later that the seeds of a national shrine to the Immaculate Conception would take root and blossom into the magnificent structure sitting on Michigan Avenue in a valley of tree-shaded slopes just a short way from the hustle and bustle secular world of the nation's capitol. Therefore, the tie-in to the the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception web-site with the upcoming feast is a natural this week. Besides, any church that offers a minimum of six Masses daily - morning, noon, and early evening...plus a minimum of four hours a day of offering the faithful the opportunity to go to Confession, as well as saying the Rosary with others twice a day and once on Sunday is enough to give it publicity and promote others to visit this site as well as this shrine when in the area. The site even provides a map and directions to the Shrine which is a very, very good idea for on this editor's visit there, he got royally lost amidst all the wrong-way one-ways that change seemingly on the hour and no-right or left-turn signals that prevent one from finding it with a conventional map. Of all the cities and countries this well-traveled editor has visited, only in Washington D.C. did we ever get lost! No wonder the President, his administration, Congress and countless others who comprise the government haven't got a clue of what God wants for America or the immense help Mary can provide as protectress if we but ask and heed all she is telling us!

      Now, back to the site in question. The site, overseen by the rector of the Shrine - Monsignor Michael J. Bransfield under Cardinal James Hickey, includes the normal rooms such as coming events, schedule, directions, Jubilee 2000, bookstore, etc. but it also includes a historical perspective that gives one the background on how the shrine came to be, the principals involved and even pictures of the construction progress. The site also provides a section on the origin of pilgrimages and what a pilgrim connotes. Probably the best aspect of this site is the Virtual Tour which provides descriptions and prayers for most of the 38 chapels in the crypt below, chapels which truly exhibit the universality of Holy Mother Church and the plethora of cultures from traditional to Byzantine. With each chapel site is a description of the altar, origin of the concept and often photos of the crypt sanctuary such as the one of Our Lady of Lourdes to the right which also lists the story of Lourdes and an explanation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception with accompanying prayer. In the main church above there are also 38 areas dedicated to Our Lady and various saints - these include altars and paintings, statues,etc. with the beautiful mosaic of the Immaculate Conception in full color along with the novena and consecration. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel where the Holy Eucharist reposes perpetually in this magnificent edifice is truly inspirational. To sum it up, one can spend hours touring these 76 chapels and mosaics in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. They load fast and there is little wait. White space is used well with a weave/wood background that is carried throughout the site. Photos are very tasteful and plentiful with no page carrying more than two or three. The site is easy to navigate and gives the browser the urge to make plans to visit this national shrine, but next to actually being there, this site is the next best thing. Therefore we bestow our prestigious "Golden Chalice Award" to this site, conferring FOUR Hail Mary's to this site signifying the message of Our Lady imparted at Lourdes and the significant relationship to America's past, present and future! "Golden Chalice Award" to this site, conferring a perfect full decade of TEN Hail Mary's to this king of Medjugorje web sites honoring the Queen of Peace.

Text Visitors in 1998: February