Next stop: the Felician Sisters, another Polish community, named for St Felix of Cantalamessa.
The convent is surrounded by a stone fence made long ago by the Sisters and the orphans they cared for.
Sacred Heart is another Polish parish nearby. It burned down a couple of times before the present church was built. Arson was suspected since the pastor railed publicly against the local taverns.
Our guide turned 85 yesterday and was the caretaker of the church for many years. Here he is showing a photo of himself playing the accordion at a parish celebration about 70 years ago.
St Mary of Mt Carmel is one of the oldest Polish parishes in the diocese. The sign in front reads "God Save Poland."
Our guide was the lady at right whose father, at age 9, hauled bricks for the present church with a team of horses.
One of the side altars has a secret compartment.
When you open it, there is the figure of the dead Christ. It was used on Good Friday in the early days but was forgotten about by the 1930s.
The church is quite literally in the cornfields. The farmer considerately left part of the field unplanted so that people would have room to park for this weelend's picnic.
This morning we visited the headquarters of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Third Order of St Francis.
They are a Polish community who started out as teachers of Polish children in rural Wisconsin,
Their redoubtable leader:
In 1978, they hosted a certain Cardinal from Poland. The Sisters who waited on him still recall how he cleaned his plate.
We had lunch in the same dining room.
We got to take a peek in the sacristy, too. This is a detail from the embroidery on one of the dedication vestments:
The bishop's vestry/private chapel includes a set of windows on episcopal themes, like this one:
And this one.
We had lunch at a Wisconsin burger place. Notice the trademark pickle-on-top-of-the-bun.
After that it was out to Prairie du Chien to see the oldest church in the diocese, St Gabriel's, which was begun under Father Samuel Mazzuchelli. In case you are wondering, Prairie du Chien is pronounced prayer doo sheen.
This little town was a close rival with La Crosse in the early days, and they really thought St Gabriel's would be a cathedral one day. It was not to be. Our guide said there is high unemployment in this area. Most people who have jobs work at Cabela's, 3M, or the pre-fabricated home factory. Sad.
Today we toured the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman, built by the same architect who designed the seminary. It was completed in 1962.
The themes for the windows were selected by a team of priests. This window represents the Church, who is blindfolded because she is no respecter of persons.
The Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
The great window is on the theme "I am the vine, you are the branches."
One would not expect to find a $46 million shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in the hills of Wisconsin, but there is one. It was the brainchild of Bishop Burke when he served in the diocese.
First you go into a small candle chapel with about 800 candles reaching to the ceiling.
Windows represent various apparitions of Mary: Knock, Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, and others.
On the way up to the church one passes this image of the Holy Family. Note Bishop Burke and the donors on the left.
Just a tiny bit of the ceiling fresco in the vestibule:
Our guide indicated that the baldacchino was modeled on Santa Maria Maggiore.
The rosary walk features interesting original artworks. Notice that Pentecost appears to be taking place in the shrine church itself.
This place was quite something.
We spent the afternoon in the Archives. Parts of it are organized.
This rosary was made from a "Job's tears" plant. Bishop Heiss, the first bishop of the diocese, grew the plant in his garden, made the rosary himself, and gave it to his housekeeper.
We visited the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who are very active in the diocese. Their heritage center highlights the amazing talents of the sisters, who could really give Mother Joseph a run for her money in the areas of waxworks and hair ornaments (not pictured here). They even have the how-to books:
A wax baby Jesus:
And wax fruit. Remarkably convincing:
The wool crafts were not quite as photorealistic:
The cross seen by the monks every time they enter the choir:
The beehive pattern of the windows echoed in the gold leaf backdrop of the abbot's chair.
The Stations are simple plaques set in the floor.
The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is everything that is beautiful at Christ the Light in Oakland in one room: