The Hills


In early Christian life, rocks have found a place in many situations. St. Stephen, the first martyr, was stoned to death; David slew Goliath with a stone; and so on. At the Shrine, rocks have been a theme used throughout. A retaining wall was needed near the Rosary Pond. In 2014 Steve Schweitzer and his family took charge of the project through numerous obstacles which became a labor of love. Family and volunteers came from Minnesota; Colorado; Indiana; Florence, South Dakota; Nebraska; and Yankton to build the wall. Steve died a month after completion. He had been the engineer of many of the rock walls, and a special volunteer at the Shrine.

The Pieta

Found on the hillside, the Pieta depicts Jesus in the arms of His Mother when He was taken down from the Cross.

The Stations of the Cross

The Crosses lead one to the top of the hill and the three giant Crosses. At the beginning of the Shrine, these Crosses were constructed by volunteers. In a ceremony, witnessed by Fr. Augustine, the Crosses were placed in their special spots. Fr. Augustine was from Canon City, Colorado, and was a Benedictine Monk. He was 75 years old and held a PhD in Theology. Mrs. English said, “He seemed very holy and wise.” When asked if we were on the right track, with a little deliberation, he said, “1. this is a good idea; 2. the area will be blessed and those working on it will be blessed; 3. it will NEVER BE EASY; 4. you will be surprised the people God will send to develop it.” They have since been replaced by new Crosses of bronze steel which now lead pilgrims to the top. It is an inspirational climb as the Passion of Christ is recalled and comes to a climax at the empty tomb.

Three Large Crosses

Three large Crosses were placed high on a hill overlooking Lewis & Clark Lake. As each Cross was erected, a ring of light formed around the sun. This was taken as confirmation that the volunteers were on the right track. A picture of the ring around the sun can be viewed in the Chapel as well as a stained glass window depicting the event. A reporter from the Denver Register was present and was critical that the equipment from Gavins Point Dam was being used to dig the holes. He then experienced the rings around the sun, and became a believer in the endeavor.

The Tomb

Below the Crosses, the path leads to the tomb with a crude replica of Christ’s resting place. As you enter, a voice is heard saying, “We know you seek Jesus, He is not here, He has risen.” The stone cavern was crafted by Ed English and Ed Krempges.

The Risen Christ

Just to the side of the tomb is a statue of the Risen Christ sculpted by Frank Yaggie. A light illumines it at night for observation from far below.

Meditation Area

The Meditation Area is a sort of resting point between the lower level and the Crosses at the hilltop. A marble altar for outdoor Masses can be found here. It is home to Moses, an angry statue (with good reason). The statue depicts Moses as he came down the mountain to find his people worshipping a golden calf. An iron creation of St. Michael (both images sculpted by John Day) depicts his victory over Satan and he stands guard over the area where outdoor services can be celebrated.

The Holy Stairs

The Holy Stairs lead to the meditation area, the tomb and the three giant Crosses. They replaced the original Holy Stairs which were constructed of railroad ties. Each step was donated, and a prayer was assigned to it. It was replaced due to deterioration. We cherish the original donors and prayers in a book called “The Holy Stairs Prayer Booklet.”

The Hermitages

These small cabins are in a secluded area in the woods and were used at one time for quiet meditation and retreats. Deer, turkey, and other wildlife are reminders of God's creation.