Join us September 10th following the 10am Mass for the Sorrowful Mother Procession to the Sorrowful Mother Shrine right outside of town on Shrine Road.
A History of Our Shrine of the Sorrowful Mother
Each year on the Sunday closest to September 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the parishioners of Holy Family Parish make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Sorrowful Mother located about a mile outside the town limits. During this procession, the rosary is recited. At the shrine, there is a homily and Benediction with the Most Blessed Sacrament.
The history of the wayside shrine is an interesting and inspiring one that begins in 1836 when Siegfried Koehler came to the New World from Alsace. Aboard a ship for America, Siegfried had with him a statue of the Sorrowful Mother that the Koehler family had salvaged from a church that had been threatened with pillage during the French Revolution. During the voyage, a tumbling sea had almost overwhelmed the vessel, and Siegfried had the statue brought up from the hold of the ship. He personally led the Litany of the Blessed Virgin which both crew and passengers recited. So, pointed are the details – the Jew, for example, who instead for “Bitte für uns,” (Please for us) said, “Mich auch.” (Me too) – that one cannot disbelieve this romantic phase of the tale. Mr. Koehler added to the prayers of crew and passengers a vow, in which he bound himself to build a shrine in America to enthrone his statue if he should land safely.
Originally Siegfried was going to use his log home as the shrine but deep down, he felt that somehow, he must do better by the Blessed Virgin. If only he could get together enough for a little brick shrine! Through Oldenburg and St. Mary’s of the Rock he made his pilgrimage to collect funds for Mary’s shrine. In 1871, the building of this shrine in honor of the Sorrowful Mother brought joy to the soul of Siegfried Koehler for it was the fulfillment of a vow and a dream that he had longingly and lovingly lingered over.
In May of 1871, the brickwork was up and the good people of the community wended their way over the hills for the dedication. Franciscan Father Bonaventure Hammer blessed the building. Siegfried hoped that Mass would someday be offered in the shrine, but he was not privileged to see it. While kneeling beside the woodpile saying the evening “Angelus,” he was called home to God.
For a time, the shrine was by way of becoming a place of regular pilgrimage, and many were the clients who lingered on in the peaceful, calming atmosphere of the wayside retreat. Father Hugo Staud, OFM, who became pastor of Holy Family Church in 1927, requested Bishop Chartrand to indulgence visits and prayers said in the wayside chapel.
In the early 1970’s, the statue, which over the years had been encrusted with a number of coats of paint, was stripped and then was discovered to be made of black walnut. Painstaking efforts were made to clean off the layers of paint and to restore the statue to its pristine beauty and elegance that which the original wood carving displayed. Since the statue is considered a precious and valuable heirloom, it now resides in Holy Family Church. A substitute plaster of Paris was enshrined above the altar of the outdoor shrine.
The shrine is still the object of love and devotion on the part of the Catholic community of Oldenburg, as well as out-of-town visitors. Parishioner in their sorrows, as well as in their joys pay devotional visits to the shrine. It is a first faith-conviction in that area that the Sorrowful Mother has been a source of special protection and grace for her beloved children in the Oldenburg community, nestled, as it is, in the hills of southeastern Indiana.