Special Devotions and Processions
These processions would begin at the Our Lady Mother of Mercy Chapel or in front of the brick house altar area and move down to the south lawn via slender cinder paths. With hundreds of parishioners and guests behind them, the sisters and priests of The Precious Blood would lead the procession down to the Lourdes Grotto which had been erected at the base of the Indian mound (Holy Family Hill). From there, depending upon the season, the group would celebrate Benediction or follow the stations of the cross which were erected around the perimeter of the mound (these have long since been destroyed by the interim owner from 1977-1999).
The procession would then make its way back up another cinder path to the front of the brick house and then back to the main chapel for final prayers. It was truly a sight and event to behold.
These events were supported, and often attended, by Archbishop John Noll himself as he was a frequent visitor to the "springs" (his summer home was on the lake across the road and he said frequent Mass in the main chapel). As spiritual director for the sisters who ran the healing center up until his death in 1956, there wasn't much that he was not aware of when it came to the spiritual activities centered around this bustling community.
It has been said before on this space that one of the reasons we feel The Blessed Mother chose Rome City to announce Herself as Our Lady of America to Sr. Millie was because of the special devotion Archbishop Noll had to Our Lady, his push for the National Basilica, his defense of the faith on a national level, and the accumulated graces won by the sisters and priests in taking care of Her children. These processions and prayerful events played a key role in maintaining and reinforcing the sanctity Our Lord required for His Mother's own work.
This work has not ended, rather it has been passed on to all of us who seek the intercession of Our Lady through this canonically-approved special devotion. Our work is still ahead of us as we strive to maintain the sanctity of this Holy Ground for what is yet to come. The Friday Night prayer group, as we all do, plays an important role in this effort in preserving the sanctity of these grounds as a place of prayer. Please remember us, and our Bishops and priests, in your prayers from home.
Thanks again to Dr. John Willke and his wife Barbara for sending us these great photos from their family album.