Silicon Valley is not usually thought of as a destination for religious pilgrimages, but along US 101 stands one of the largest, and in fact one of the only Marian shrines on the West Coast.
Msgr. John J. Sweeny, the former pastor of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Santa Clara, commissioned noted sculptor Charles C. Parks to sculpt a giant statue of the Virgin Mary to serve as the centerpiece of a Marian shrine on the parish grounds.
After three years of work, Parks finished the 32-foot-tall steel statue of Mary in 1983. In a grand dedication ceremony, the statue and encompassing shrine were dedicated and blessed by Bishop Pierre DuMaine, with a special blessing by Pope John Paul II.
Almost 35 years later, the massive steel statue is still one of the largest depictions of the religious figure in the United States, and the largest on the West Coast (the tallest depiction of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Rockies, is almost three times as tall, but sits atop the Continental Divide in Montana). What’s more, the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace is the only Marian shrine between Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City and Our Lady of Sorrows in Portland, Oregon—a distance of almost 3,000 miles.
Know Before You Go
The outdoor shrine welcomes visitors 24 hours a day and has spacious grounds for respectful picnicking, relaxation, and veneration.