Black Madonna Shrine
This wooded grove of beautiful hand-built stone grottos is a hidden gem within a shuttered Franciscan monastery.
This shrine stands atop an enchanting sliver of a 300-acre land once part of a Franciscan monastery. A hidden gem within the woods, it’s essentially a one-of-a kind folk art exhibit born from a man’s devotion to his faith.
Brother Bronislaus Luszcz, a native of Poland, spent 23 years building this collection of large grottos. He used local Missouri tiff rock to create beautiful statues and mosaics freckled with found and donated objects like seashells and costume jewelry. He began the work in 1937, though the seeds of his endeavor were planted long before.
While Brother Bronislaus was growing up in Poland, he would watch as pilgrims trekked through his home village on their way to a shrine for the Virgin Mary. The memory of the pilgrims lingered in his mind even after he moved to the United States and inspired him to begin constructing his own shrine. He even built a gorgeous cedar wood chapel, but it was sadly set ablaze by an arsonist and reduced to little more than a pile of ashes.
Thankfully, his shrine and grottoes survived. Though the monastery is now closed (along with its delightful artist cabin), the shrine still stands as a creative labor of love and a truly peaceful spot to visit and enjoy.
Know Before You Go
It’s free admission but donations are appreciated. There’s also an open-air chapel and a small gift shop with holy water, prayer candles, rosaries, etc. Easy access from 44 and a nice country drive!
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