Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation
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The Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation is a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church and a shrine to the Virgin Mary, operated by the Conventual Franciscan Friars. It is located in Carey, a village in Northwest Ohio. It was made a national shrine by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
One of the two Roman Catholic basilicas in Ohio, it is one of some 60 basilicas in the United States. It is the site of an annual pilgrimage of Roman Catholics (primarily from the Middle East) to mark the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, celebrated 15 August of every year. The basilica is designated as a shrine to Our Lady of Consolation, Mary, Consoler of the Afflicted.
Starting in the 2nd century, Catholics have given devotion to Mary as Our Lady of Consolation, one of her earliest titles of honor. In the 17th century, in plague-ravaged Luxembourg, the faithful prayed to her and reported miraculous cures and healings. In 1652, Pope Innocent X encouraged devotion to Our Lady of Consolation by establishing a confraternity. The devotion spread to the United States, where the first shrine was built in Carey, Ohio. A replica statue was commissioned and arrived from Luxembourg in 1875. Cures and healings reportedly continue to take place at the shrine to the present day.
Bishop Joseph Schrembs, first bishop of the Diocese of Toledo, invited the Conventual Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception Province in Syracuse, New York to take charge of the shrine. In 1919, railroads began offering reduced rates to Carey during the spring and summer pilgrimage season.
In the summer of 1923 a contingent of Ku Klux Klan members arrived intent on holding a counter demonstration to the annual procession of the eve of the Feast of the Assumption, but ended holding a gathering on the outskirts of town.
Basilica and shrine complex
The shrine complex includes the basilica, the original 1875 wooden parish church, the parish school, a rectory housing the pastor and other Franciscan priests, a provincial house which houses Franciscan friars, a convent for resident and itinerant nuns, a retreat center providing lodgings for lay and religious pilgrims, a gift shop, and a cafeteria.
The original parish church, the first church in Carey, began construction in 1868, under the direction of Father Edward Vatmann, pastor of St. Michael’s in Findlay, Ohio. At its dedication, it was given the name of St. Edward. In 1873 Father Joseph Peter Gloden, pastor of the church of St. Nicholas, Frenchtown, came to serve the parish. The faithful in Carey worked to support the church's construction and prayed to Mary under the title of Our Lady of Consolation. The congregation renamed the church in her honor upon its completion.
Father Gloden, a native of Luxembourg, obtained a replica of the statue of Our Lady of Consolation venerated in the Cathedral of Luxembourg. The wooden statue, thirty-six inches high, depicted Mary holding the infant Christ with mother and child dressed in ornate garments. On May 24, 1875, the statue of Our Lady of Consolation was carried in procession to the church, from the church of St. Nicholas, in Frenchtown, some seven miles away. It is claimed that the first miraculous event occurred during this procession. As the procession marched, a severe storm raged in the entire area. Throughout the seven-mile walk, not a drop of rain touched the statue nor anyone in the procession.
The original parish church remains today and still sees daily use for early morning Mass, as well as for special programs and devotions.
The increasing number of pilgrims necessitated a larger church. In 1924 construction of the red-brick Romanesque church was finished. The present Byzantine-style basilica is located at the corner of Clay & West streets. The main floor contains the narthex, the sanctuary, and the altar which maintains its pre-Vatican II configuration, separating the celebrant from the congregation by an altar rail and providing religious statuary and votive candles in alcoves along both sides of the sanctuary. A choir loft containing the basilica's pipe organ is located above the narthex overlooking the sanctuary. A second sanctuary is located in the basement, along with confessionals for the sacrament of reconciliation. Along the sides of the basement sanctuary, display cases show the various items cast off by those reportedly healed, including artificial limbs, canes, crutches, and even litters.
The nearby Shrine Park is the site of a set of Stations of the Cross that stretches nearly a mile along the park's winding perimeter road, encircling an outdoor altar situated under a large dome supported by four marble columns. The dome is finished in gold and supports a statue at its apex of the Blessed Virgin Mary which can be seen from miles away. Shrine Park serves as the destination for the religious procession from the basilica on the Feast of the Assumption
- "Our Lady", Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation
- Endres, David J., "The Making of an American Catholic Devotion: The Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, 1873-1929", paper presented to the American Catholic Historical Association Mid-year Meeting held at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, March 28, 2014
- "Original Shrine", Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation
- Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation official website