Tuesday, May 24, 2011

National Shrine of St Joseph, De Pere, Wisconsin

On a recent post-Easter vacation which took in Green Bay and Chicago, I visited the National Shrine of St Joseph which is at St Norbert's Abbey in De Pere, Wisconsin, not far from Green Bay. The abbey is set in beautiful grounds. The National Shrine is beneath the abbey church and is quite small. The shrine was recognised as the National Shrine by Pope Leo XIII in 1892.

I was struck by the beauty of the crowned statue. If Jesus is truly God, then Joseph bore - and bears - God in his holy arms. If Christ is the Head of the Church, Joseph is truly the Protector of the Church for he bears our Head in the safety of his arms. If the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, and the Head and members are one, then Joseph also bears the Church - the Body of Christ - in his arms.

And as the Holy Joseph of Israel was in charge of the grain and Pharoah directed the hungry people to "go to Joseph", so too must we "go to Joseph" to obtain the Bread of Life whom he bears for us.

In this image, St Joseph is also shown as king.

My friend Father John Doerfler and I were the only ones in the crypt shrine. The quiet atmosphere and the beauty of this sculpture led easily to contemplation and simple theological thoughts.

Memorare of St Joseph

Remember, O most illustrious Patriarch Saint Joseph,
never has it been heard that anyone who asked for your protection
or sought your intercession was left unaided.
In this confidence, I come before you,
my loving protector, chaste Spouse of Mary;
foster father of the Saviour and dispenser of the treasures of His Sacred Heart.
Despise not my earnest prayer but graciously hear and obtain my petition...

O God Who by Your providence
chose Blessed Joseph for the spouse of Your Most Holy Mother,
grant, I ask, that he whom we venerate as our protector on earth
may be our intercessor in Heaven. Amen.

I should say that this was not the first "shrine" we visited. This was:

Vince Lombardi was the legendary 1960's coach
of the Packers. Under his watch they won
the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967. He was
also a practising Catholic and attended Mass at
the Cathedral Church of St Francis Xavier.

Earl Louis (Curly) Lambeau (1898 - 1965) was
founder, player, and first coach of the Packers.

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