Tag Archives: Catholic

New Necklaces

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A couple of weeks ago, I made some new necklaces during slow days at the parking lot. All of these new necklaces are for sale.

The necklace on the left is made with brown and natural hemp and has a serpentine pendant. Serpentine is believed to help the wearer feel more in control of his or her life. It aids meditation and spiritual life. This necklace is 20 and 1/2 inches and costs $16, including postage. The middle necklace has an ornate little key on rainbow hemp. It is 18 and 1/2 inches and cost $12, including postage. The necklace on the right boasts a metal boot on earth tone hemp. It is 19 and 1/2 inches and cost $10, including postage.

The necklace on the left is made with brown and natural hemp and has a serpentine pendant. Serpentine is believed to help the wearer feel more in control of his or her life. It aids meditation and spiritual life. This necklace is 20 and 1/2 inches and costs $16, including postage. The middle necklace has an ornate little key on rainbow hemp. It is 18 and 1/2 inches and cost $12, including postage. The necklace on the right boasts a metal boot on earth-tone hemp. It is 19 and 1/2 inches and cost $10, including postage.

 

This necklace is a St. Christopher medal on natural hemp tied in a spiral design. It is about 19 inches and costs, $10 including shipping.

This necklace is a St. Christopher medal on natural hemp tied in a spiral design. It is about 19 inches and costs, $10 including shipping. I couldn’t find a stamp saying what the medal is made of, but the bail is stamped “France.”

 

Here's a closeup of the front of the medal. I suppose that's the Christ Child being carried by St. Christopher.

Here’s a closeup of the front of the medal. I suppose that’s the Christ Child being carried by St. Christopher.

 

This is a closeup of the back of the medal. I think it says something like, I'm Catholic. In the event of an emergency, call a priest.

This is a closeup of the back of the medal. I think it says something like, St. Christopher, protect me. I’m Catholic. In the event of an emergency, call a priest.

I took all of the photos in this post. Thanks to my friend in New England for sending me the key, the boot, and the St. Christopher medal and encouraging me to work these trinkets into my art.

Ave Maria Shrine

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I took this photo of the Ave Maria Shrine in Trinidad, CO.

I took this photo of the Ave Maria Shrine in Trinidad, CO. The chapel is in the building in the background. Notice the giant blue rosary under the words “Ave Maria.”

I visited the Ave Maria Shrine in Trinidad, Colorado twice in September 2014 when I was in town to see friends. I’d seen the shrine listed as one of the town’s attractions but hadn’t sought it out yet when my friend and I stumbled upon it. We were heading east on Benedicta Avenue, going to the senior living center so my friend could drop off a job application, when we saw the shrine rising out of the trees. We had no pressing obligations after dropping off the job application, so we decided to take some time to explore.

There are lots of statues of the Virgin Mary at the Ave Maria shrine. I took this photo of one of them.

There are lots of statues of the Virgin Mary at the Ave Maria shrine. I took this photo of one of them.

From the street, visitors climb a series of steps up to the chapel at the very top. There are several statues of the Virgin Mary between the steps at the bottom and the chapel at the top, giving pilgrims many opportunities to stop and pray or reflect quietly. Apparently the chapel itself is not open at any set times.The Holy Trinity Parish website (http://trinidadcatholic.org/gpage5.html) says

To visit the inside of the chapel, please call our Trinidad Area Catholic Pastoral Center at (719) 846-3369, extension 14, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, except holidays. We will try to get someone to open up for you. It is best to make arrangements some days in advance.

My friend and I went all the way to the top and were able to peek into the chapel through the metal screen over the windows. The chapel is small, but very beautiful, and we both wanted to go inside and look at it more closely.

Some of the statues at the shrine have been damaged, perhaps due to age, or perhaps from vandalism. I took this photo of a statue of Mary missing her hands and nose.

Some of the statues at the shrine are damaged, perhaps due to being aged by the elements, or perhaps from vandalism. I took this photo of a statue of Mary missing her hands and nose.

Like just about everything of interest I encountered in Trinidad, the Ave Maria Shrine has a legend to go with it. According the the aforementioned Holy Trinity Parish website,

     In 1908 a Trinidad physician, was leaving Mount San Rafael Hospital, after all night duty. It was already dawn, and although a snowstorm was in progress, he was persistent to make it home.  As he was leaving the hospital he noticed a glimmer of light flickering on the hill directly behind the hospital.  At first, he gave it little attention, believing the spray of snow flurries were creating an illusion.  Then the possibility of someone hurt or stranded captured his attention.  Even at the early morning hour and in the middle of a snowstorm, the good doctor ascended the hill where the light originated.  The frozen ground and steep slope made the climb very hazardous in his pursuit to reach the small clearing.
Upon reaching the clearing, he was spellbound at the sight of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with a lit candle flickering at its base.  Awed by the vision of such a beautiful statue, he reached out and touched its outstretched hand while calling out to see if anyone was nearby. After calling out for several minutes and no one answered, he decided to stay by the statue until daybreak.
When word of the doctors discovery spread throughout the community, reactions were varied.  some believed that some person had to have been on the hill, while others were skeptical as to how a 250 pound statue could have been left on the hill, kept a candle lit during a blizzard and then disappear into thin air.  But the more faithful residents accepted this as a divine sign from God that a shrine should be built in Her honor on this mountain.
The early settlers erected a small lava rock shrine, where Our Lady was placed, and the faithful made daily pilgrimages and offered prayers to God through here intersession.

The information offered  is a little confusing, perhaps mostly due to the poor writing skills of whoever wrote down the legend. Who was the doctor? Didn’t he have a name? If it was “already dawn” when he left the hospital, why does the story say “he decided to stay by the statue until daybreak”? And what exactly disappeared into thin air? The 250 pound statue? The person who hauled the statue up the hill then left it there? Ah, mysteries.

The website also gives factual information about the chapel.

Plans for the present chapel were begun in 1934. The chapel was built through the efforts of a group of local Catholics much devoted to Mary. They were known as the Circolo Mariano. They worked under the leadership of Rosaria Vecchio. In 1962, vandals destroyed the statue., breaking it into 279 pieces.  It was almost a total loss, but thanks to the patience and skilled hands of Sam Arguello and his son Anthony, it was restored and placed inside the Shrine, above the altar, where it remains today.  Over the years many such faithful persons have helped develop and maintain the shrine and its surroundings. Many of them are commemorated by name both inside and outside the chapel. This shrine continues to be developed and maintained through the generosity of many persons both in this area and visitors from many states and other countries.

I took this photo of a plaque at the shrine.

I took this photo of a plaque at the shrine.

After seeing peeking at the chapel through the windows, my friend and I and my friend’s girlfriend wanted to go inside the chapel. I called the phone number on the Shrine’s website and made an appointment to see the chapel. We were supposed to be met by one or more of the parish’s maintenance workers who would unlock the door to the chapel, but no one ever showed up to let us in. We were really disappointed. I wish the man I talked to in the parish office had just told me no instead of saying someone would let us in but not making it happen. No one ever called to apologize, and I didn’t call back to ask any questions.

I took this photo of another of the many statues of Mary at the Ave Maria shrine.

I took this photo of another of the many statues of Mary at the Ave Maria shrine. I think this one was behind glass.

The shrine is very tranquil, and I enjoyed my visits very much. I recommend it as a stop for anyone visiting Trinidad, but especially for folks who are big fans of the Virgin Mary.

Ave Maria Shrine, Trinidad, CO. Photo by me.

This photo I took of the Ave Maria shrine in Trinidad, CO really shows the giant rosary.

St. Joseph’s Day

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If you’re not Catholic or from New Orleans (or a Catholic from New Orleans), you probably haven’t heard about St. Joseph’s Day. St. Patrick tends to get all the glory two days earlier, but if you have ties to New Orleans, you probably know that St. Joseph’s Day is a big deal in the Crescent City, at least in certain communities.

I didn’t know enough about St. Joseph’s day to write about it with much authority off the top of my head, so I did a Google search. I found much information about the Sicilian American traditions in New Orleans so I’ll be doing a lot of cutting and pasting from that site. (Unless I state otherwise, assume information about the Sicilian American traditions is coming from that site.)

March 19th marks the Catholic celebration of St.Josephs [sic] Day where Catholic New Orleanians construct elaborate altars in honor of this saint. The tradition, commemorating the relief St. Joseph provided during a famine in Sicily, began in the late 1800’s when Sicilian immigrants settled in New Orleans.

St. Joseph altars, representing the Holy Trinity, are divided into three sections with a statue of St. Joseph at the head.

The devout place candles, figurines, flowers, medals and other items around the alter creating a beautiful, lush and overflowing effect. Since the altars thank St. Joseph for relieving hunger, offerings of food are essential. Cookies, cakes and breads, often in the form of shell fish, are common decorations for alatars [sic]. Fava beans, or “lucky beans” are particularly associated with St. Joseph because they sustained the Sicilians throughout famine.

Traditionally, the altar is broken up on St. Joseph’s day with a ceremony of costumed children, pretending to look for shelter, finding sustenance at the altar. Food and donations are then distributed to the poor.

Hosted by the American Italian Marching club, one of the largest ethnic group organizations in the southeast, the annual St. Joseph’s day parade in the French Quarter is a local favorite. The evening begins with food, wine and Italian music followed by marchers dressed in black tuxedos proceeding to parade until dark.

If you happen to be in New Orleans today, you can visit one or more St. Joseph altars. Altars are found at local New Orleans churches, especially those with strong Italian roots, but they are also constructed in private homes, halls, Italian restaurants, and public spaces in different communities throughout the city. The Times Picayune, a local newspaper, usually reveals a week in advance where the archdiocese of New Orleans will host altars with visiting hours and food services. Some popular places for a guaranteed look include the St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square and the St. Joseph church on Tulane Avenue by the Italian Renaissance Museum. And if you happen to see a fresh green branch over a local’s doorway, it means you’re invited to participate in the ceremony and to share the food.

Mardi Gras Indians also have a connection to St. Joseph’s Day. According to http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/supersunday.html,

Nobody is completely certain when the tradition of Mardi Gras Indians “masking” on St. Joseph’s night began. However, there have been reports of Indians on St. Joseph’s night dating back to before World War I. The custom seems to have come about simply because it was a good opportunity. With all of the Catholic Italians celebrating this holiday in the streets, the Indians were able to blend in and celebrate as well.

 

Before 1969, the Indians celebrated by coming out at night to meet and greet other “gangs”. In 1969, the first parade was created and rolled through town at night. In 1970, it was switched to a day parade on Sunday afternoon, and has continued in that tradition to this day.

Aside from Mardi Gras Day, the most significant day for the Mardi Gras Indians is their Super Sunday. The New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council always has their Indian Sunday on the third Sunday of March, around St. Joseph’s Day. Their festivities begin at noon in A.L. Davis Park (at Washington & LaSalle Streets) where the Mardi Gras Indians once again dress in their feathers and suits and take to the streets to meet other “gangs”.

If you want to visit New Orleans, but don’t want to deal with the crowds of Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, I recommend you travel to the Crescent City in mid-March. The weather is still cool (by New Orleans standards, at least), and if you time it right, you can see Mardi Gras Indians and St. Joseph’s altars.

 

Since I am neither African American nor Sicilian American, I did not grow up with any of these St. Joseph’s Day traditions. I’ve been to the Mardi Gras Indians’ Super Sunday festivities once, and I visited a St. Joseph’s Day altar once.