The Shrine of Our Lady of the Highways, located off old Route 66 near Raymond, Ill., marked its 50th year with a Mass and rededication of the monument on Sunday.
Illinois Route 66er was there and had this to report in an e-mail:
We had probably in the area of 200 people, maybe a few more, on hand for the mass and rededication of the Shrine. The weather was fantastic, with only a spot of sprinkles around the time of the dedication, but lots of sun early on and no steady rain. Many of the original CYC members who established the Shrine were on hand, including Loretta Ludek, Francis Marten’s eldest daughter. In fact, all of Francis’ surviving children were on hand for the day.
Along with the ceremony, a new kiosk has been installed on the south side of the Shrine between the statue and the Hail Mary signs with a locking glass case to put information and memorabilia in. Long term plans call for a map of local Route 66 landmarks to be added to the Shrine information, along with a donation box and guestbook.
The Litchfield Deanery’s Catholic Youth Council began raising money for the shrine in 1958, and the statue was dedicated on Oct. 25, 1959, at the edge of Francis Marten’s farm. The marble statue of Blessed Virgin Mary was imported from Italy; local kids built the wooden alcove, a brick base, a cobblestone walkway and lights around the statue. Total cost at the time was $900.
Francis Marten died in 2002, but his family continues to maintain the site.
(Photos courtesy of Peter Stork.)