The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle National Shrine

This was another free day so we filled it up by going to the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle National Shrine in San Juan, TX.  It doesn't matter what your religion is, it is a beautiful and interesting place to visit.

For centuries people have made pilgrimages with a spiritual purpose to holy places. In the Rio Grande Valley, hundreds are drawn to the Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of San Juan del Valle. It is one of the most visited shrines in the United States with an average of more than 1 million visitors a year.  The history of this Shrine began in 1920, when the Reverend Alfonso Jalbert, O.M.I., built a small wooden chapel in San Juan, Texas as a mission church of St. Margaret Mary Church in Pharr, Texas.

The origins of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle are found in San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico, a town founded near Guadalajara after the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Spanish missionaries placed a small image of the Immaculate Conception in the church of San Juan de los Lagos.

In 1623, an acrobat traveling with his wife and children stopped in San Juan de los Lagos to give a performance.  While practicing their act, the youngest daughter lost her balance and was killed. An Indian woman, who was the caretaker of the church, begged the parents to place the image of the Virgin Mary over their daughter's body and prayed for the Virgin's intercession. The child was then brought back to life. As word spread of the miracle, the devotion to Our Lady, under the title of “La Virgen de San Juan”, started to grow throughout Jalisco. Today, she is recognized by many people throughout Mexico as well as the United States.

In 1949, a priest commissioned an artist in Guadalajara, Mexico to make a reproduction of the statue venerated at San Juan de Los Lagos and this reproduction was first placed in the San Juan chapel.

Bishop Mariano S. Garriaga approved the construction of a new church and the Shrine was built five years later in 1954, and dedicated to the Virgen de San Juan.   Sixteen years after its construction, a tragic event on October 23, 1970 destroyed the entire Shrine. While 50 priests were celebrating Mass with another 50 people in attendance, and 100 school children in an adjacent cafeteria, the pilot of a small low-flying airplane crashed into the roof of the shrine and exploded into flames.

The ground breaking for the new Shrine took place on November 27, 1976 and the new Shrine was dedicated on April 19, 1980. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops designated Our Lady of San Juan del Valle a national Shrine on March 24, 1998, and the following year on June 12, 1999 Pope John Paul II designated it as a minor Basilica.

You should also walk around the grounds following the path around the stations of the cross.  The statues are beautiful and very detailed.

I think everyone that went to the Basilica enjoyed the tour.  Back l to r:  MaryJane, Colleen, Sue, Carolyn, Margareta, Vicki. Front l to r:  Gloria, Joella, Rhonda.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post, and is the very reason I always read RV'ers blogs. . .I may have never known about this place. . .now I've added it to my Evernote Travel Files. . .and when we are in the area, we can check it out. . .thanks for sharing!

    ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing Blog


Thanks for commenting.