Our Lady of the Universe

ML031 Box 28 Marian Holy Card Collection


United States of America


The National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, in Orlando, Florida, is a 17-acre plot of land in the middle of the woods. The creation of this Shrine began when a priest was kneeling and praying in the Grotto of Our Lady at Lourdes in 1979. He came from Orlando which had been attracting millions of visitors each year thanks to Disney World. Many of these visitors happened to be Catholic. To fulfill the needs of these Catholic tourists, the Diocese of Orlando began to hold weekly mass services at hotels. However, when demand grew, additional hotels with more masses were arranged. As more and more tourists came to Orlando in the following years, the hotels were not up to par with the demands of the visitors. This is when Father F. Joseph Harte came up with a permanent solution. He wanted to buy land and equipment for a massive church project. However, Father Harte simply could not receive the funds. Fundraising eventually began and he was able to purchase 17-acres of land that was vastly overgrown and uncultivated. Many saw Orlando as a new center for evangelization. On December 8, 1984 during the feast of the Immaculate Conception, they had raised enough money to begin construction of the ground they had previously bought. In 1986 the shrine’s first phase was completed and Archbishop Pio Laghi, who visited when phase one was completed, told the workers, “Mary has to be immensely pleased with what you have done... She will see that each and every one of you will be blessed abundantly for your devotion, your faith and your gracious generosity." As 1990 rolled around an architectural firm was tasked with designing a worship space that would celebrate the traditions of the basilica while also having modern advances in audio and illumination. They wanted to incorporate natural lighting from the stained-glass windows that extended the entire length of the nave, which is the central part of a church building. The nave is intended to accommodate most of the congregation. High above are 16 clerestory windows. These are called “The Rosary Windows”. These windows allow a soft light to hit the worshipers below that helps them think of the joyful mysteries of the Rosary. On August 22, 1990, ground was broken for a main church that would seat as many as 2000 people during the feast of Mary’s Queenship. In 1992, scaffold was assembled and they began setting 68,000 individual roof tiles. While this was taking place, other craftsmen below worked at completing the 56,000 square-foot interior of the church. While this was going on, Jerzy Kenar began working on some sculptures and paintings that would eventually be seen and placed at the Queen of the Universe. He built a “gateway” of sorts that would usher parishioners to the altar as they receive the Eucharist. He also built a 650-lb. sculpture of Jesus Christ as he was crucified against a glass backdrop to symbolize the cross. This sculpture was hung above the altar. Finally, in 1992, Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine Church opened its doors to the world. The first mass held here, some 3,000 people took part in the celebration.



Researched by Scott A. Vater

Popular Devotions

ML031 Box 28 Marian Holy Card Collection

Hail Mary

Dios te salve, María.

Llena eres de gracia: El Señor es contigo.

Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres.

Y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre: Jesús.

Santa María, Madre de Dios,

ruega por nosotros pecadores,

ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.


All content is used with permission

of the Marian Library at the

University of Dayton.