FEATURE Image: Old Testament prophets window, Mausoleum, Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside, Illinois. This is one of scores of original stained glass and artifacts in the mausoleum in Chicago’s near western suburbs.
The crucifix today is located in a southern section of Queen of Heaven cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. The cemetery is almost 500 acres that offers extensive in-ground burials as well as large indoor and outdoor mausoleum complexes where each year there are thousands of new burials. Since 1947, many notable Chicago-area figures from the world of politics, sports, religion, and business, including several gangland figures, are buried in these consecrated precincts. Overall, there are around 125,000 burials in the cemetery.
In the expansive mausoleum is a gallery of stained glass, statuary and carved wood and statuary in marble, bronze and mosaic. The art of the main building was created mostly by DaPrato Studios of Chicago, with an international array of artists and architectural designers.
The miraculous crucifix’s connection to Medjugorje visionaries.
That there is a “miraculous” crucifix on the grounds of Queen of Heaven cemetery gained noteriety starting around 1990.
The story is told about Joe Reinholtz, a retired railroad worker from neighboring Westchester, Illinois, who had lost his sight in the early 1980’s. Reinholtz, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune published in July 1991 (see – https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1991-07-24-9103220302-story.html), claimed to have been directed to the 15-foot-tall crucifix by one of the Medjugorje visionaries when he visited the Catholic pilgrimage site in Bosnia on two occasions in the late 1980’s.
After being directed by the Medjugorje visionary to pray before the crucifix in Queen of Heaven, Reinholtz (who died in 1996) and others reported that the figure of Christ on the cross bled. When more visitors reported that they too had seen the crucifix bleed, the cemetery staff investigated. They reported that they found nothing out of the ordinary at the crucifix site.
Cures and signs.
At the same time that the crucifix was seen to bleed, Joe Reinholtz was healed of his blindness. He also reported having seen the Blessed Virgin Mary who appeared at the crucifix site, accompanied by angels, including St. Michael the Archangel.
More of these many kinds of appearances continued to take place in the late 1980s and early 1990s. These were accompanied by other miraculous signs, many defying ready explanations. For example, some claimed the beads of ordinary rosaries had turned to gold after they prayed with them at the site.
Despite an incident of vandalism in 1994 where the feet of Jesus were broken off, inexplicable occurrences continued to be reported regularly at the crucifix into the mid1990s when they slacked off.
Into the first quarter of the 21st century, people still slowly drive past the crucifix, while others are found at the foot of the crucifix sometimes alone, or with family or friend, or in larger groups. Many look to be praying at the “miraculous” crucifix, some certainly looking for a healing miracle like Joe Reinholtz experienced there in 1986.
FEATURE image: (detail) Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene, John 20:11-18.
One hour’s drive (about 40 miles) south of downtown Chicago—and 90 minutes drive from the University of Notre Dame near South Bend, Indiana—is The Shrine of Christ’s Passion. Within a 30-acre site whose landscaped rocks, hills, and trees envelop the visitor, the shrine is located on busy U.S. 41 at 10630 Wicker Avenue in St. John, Indiana. A pioneer town settled in 1837, St. John still sits among farm fields though there is increasingly more development only minutes from the Indiana-Illinois state line.
On the historic Wachter family farm, the level terrain is a perfect outdoor setting for an array of multi-media and interactive attractions. Most visitors, whether as individuals or in groups, come to the shrine to traverse the half-mile winding concrete pathway that contain over 40 life-sized bronze sculptures which dramatize the Passion of Jesus Christ in the Bible.
The visit to the shrine begins in the well-stocked gift shop and leads directly outdoors to the dramatization of Jesus at The Last Supper and into the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prays. This is followed by the 14 traditional Stations of the Cross. The visit ends at Jesus’s empty tomb and his appearance to Mary Magdalene. Finally there is the dramatic Ascension of the Risen Jesus into Heaven on Mount Olivet.
The shrine opened in 2011 and added its latest attraction– namely, a re-creation of the rock-filled path up Mount Sinai to where Moses has received the 10 Commandments –in 2017.
The Shrine of Christ’s Passion required a decade of planning and over $10 million dollars to build. Each setting or station for Christ’s passion has an orientation kiosk. Each features the well-known recorded voice of American television journalist Bill Kurtis. A push of a button has Mr. Kurtis’s voice over the kiosks’ speakers provide a clear and brief description in English of the sculptures’ scenes followed by a short meditation.
Along the broad concrete pathway the prayer trail is meditative and its easy progression from station to station lends itself to discovery. Formed hills, planted trees, bushes, and grasses as well as many large boulders, provide a complete landscape far from the outside world. The design creates a terrain that is self-contained and works to evoke the arid climate of the Holy Land where the last days of Christ can become vibrant today.
Upon exiting the gift shop with its walls and shelves of tempting religious articles and other items for purchase — all proceeds apparently go to the upkeep of the shrine– one steps into an outdoor pastoral setting which offers the immediate transition into the world of the Bible and following in the footsteps of Christ during his darkest moments. Visitors share the trail with others from around the nation and world. This is part of what makes each visit to the shrine unique and alive. Yet there is ample space and freedom to enjoy one’s own completely personal experience.
Whenever one may visit the shrine — it is open 361 days a year– the prayer trail has an atmosphere that is quiet and respectful. There is always a place to sit and drink in the sculpture art detailing the greatest story ever told. Among its flora, evocative rock and land formations, and realistically-rendered life-sized sculptures depicting Jesus Christ’s suffering –- one witnesses in a a new way Christ’s mission which triumphed over sin and death.
A large and impressive place, The Shrine of Christ’s Passion retains a human scale along with giving the visitor a sense of being serenely out in nature. Depending on how much time a visitor can spend, a visit to the shrine could possibly be accomplished in as little as 30 minutes though at least an hour should be allowed to see and begin to savor everything it has to offer.
In addition to the main prayer trail and gift shop, the shrine includes more attractions such as the Moses, Mount Sinai, and the 10 Commandments trail; The Sanctity of Life Shrine; and Our Lady of The New Millennium, a monumental three-story (34 feet) tall statue of the Virgin Mary constructed out of over 8,000 pounds of stainless steel.
The Shrine is operated by a non-denominational nonprofit, private foundation. Admission to all attractions at the shrine is free. The Shrine is open daily from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Thursdays until 8:00 p.m.The Prayer Trail is open year round, weather permitting.
Main Entrance on U.S. 41 at 10630 Wicker Avenue in St. John, Indiana, minutes from the Illinois-Indiana state line. Just 40 minutes from downtown Chicago, there is ample free parking and tour buses are welcome.
The Gift Shoppe.
The Last Supper Luke 22:19
“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Garden of Gethsemane Mark 14:34
soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” Jesus said to
them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
THE 14 STATIONS OF THE CROSS AT THE SHRINE OF CHRIST’S PASSION, ST. JOHN, INDIANA.
1. Jesus is condemned to death Matthew 27: 19-26
“Pilate had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”
2. Jesus carries His cross John 19:16-17
“Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).”
3. Jesus falls for the first time Isaiah 53:1-3
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”
4. Jesus meets His mother, Mary Lamentations 1:12
“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me..?”
5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross Luke 23:26
“They seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.”
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus Psalm 17:15
“As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.”
7. Jesus falls for the second time Isaiah 53:4-6
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.”
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem Luke 23:27-31
“A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.”
9. Jesus falls for the third time Isaiah 53:10-11
“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand….”
10. Jesus is stripped of His clothes Matthew 27:27-31
“They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him.”
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross Luke 23:33-34
“When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.”
12. Jesus dies on the cross Luke 23:44-49
“Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.”
13. Jesus is taken down from the cross Mark 15:39
“When the centurion who stood facing him saw how Jesus breathed his last he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!'”
14. Jesus is placed in the tomb Luke 23:50-53
“Going to Pilate, Joseph of Arimathea asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.”
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene John 20:16
“Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned
toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”
MORE of the Prayer Trail
The Ascension Acts of the Apostles 1:9
“…Jesus was taken up before their very eyes,
and a cloud hid him from their sight.”
FEATURE image: Over the Top to Victory (“Doughboy”), 1921, John Paulding, Memorial Park, Wheaton, Illinois.
“Over the Top to Victory” is a bronze sculpture that depicts an American infantryman in World War I (known popularly as “doughboys”) that was created by American sculptor John Paulding (1883-1935).
The statue was cast in 1921 by the American Art Bronze Foundry in Chicago and stands in Memorial Park in Wheaton, Illinois.
Paulding studied sculpture at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is best remembered today for his World War I memorials.
When the United States entered World War I in April 1917 the soldiers fought valiantly. An armistice was signed on November 11, 1918—the origin of today’s Veterans Day—in a victory for the allies. The war had started in August 1914 and had gone on for over four years.
The statue was dedicated on Armistice Day, November 11, 1929, in honor of all World War I veterans in Wheaton, Illinois. Memorial Park had been established in central Wheaton in 1921 specifically to honor war veterans. Four months before this statue was dedicated—on July 12, 1929—the WheatonIllinoian opined about The Doughboy: “The statue is a fitting memorial to the soldiers of the community who died fighting for our cause. Let us not forget so easily!”
After more than 70 years standing proudly outside in the elements, the statue was refurbished and conserved in August 2000 by Venus Bronze Work, Inc., in Detroit, Michigan—and rededicated on Veteran’s Day of that year. The same local American Legion Post led the dedication ceremonies in both 1929 and 2000.
FEATURE image: Kaskaskia tribe member leads Fr. Jacques Marquette, S.J. and Louis Jolliet through the Chicago Portage, 1673. Cor-10 steel, Ferdinand Rebechini (1923-2003), The Chicago Portage National Historic Site, Lyons, Illinois, 1990. Author’s photograph taken in November 2012.
In September 1673 members of the Kaskaskia, a Native American tribe of the Illinois Confederation, led French explorers Louis Jolliet (1645-1700) and Père Jacques Marquette, S.J. (1637-1675) through the portage that was well known to Native Americans for centuries and later called the Chicago Portage. The statue depicts that event, showing a Native American pulling the canoe where water meets land, and Jolliet in the middle and Father Marquette, a cross upon his chest, standing outside the canoe and pointing ahead. For hundreds of years, early travelers, traders, and settlers had to carry their canoes and its contents overland through the Chicago Portage between the Chicago and Des Plaines Rivers. It was on this tract of Illinois land – little changed since the mid17th century – where Marquette and Jolliet, the first French explorers to open up the Old Northwest Territory, once stood.
Made of Cor-10 steel by Chicago-area artist Ferdinand Rebechini (1923-2003) and dedicated in April 1990, the sculpture at The Chicago Portage is made of the same material used to construct Chicago’s Picasso statue in Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago.
This outdoor sculpture stands at the western terminus of a nearly 8-mile-long water-and-overland travel route across the Continental Divide between the St. Lawrence and Mississippi River systems known as “the Chicago Portage.” Linking Lake Michigan (via the Chicago River) to the Mississippi River (via the Des Plaines River), the Chicago Portage became the key to expansion of travel and trade in the Old Northwest territory which later became the raison d’être for the founding of Chicago.
Portage Type and Length Could Widely Vary With the Weather and Seasons
The length of the portage varied with the weather. If water was high, canoes could be paddled longer from Portage Creek into Mud Lake and to the Chicago River without any overland portaging. In dry times, travelers would have to portage in the waist-high swamp waters of Mud Lake, and then drag their canoes through swamp, sloughs, and mud all the way to the Chicago River. The portage became no better in times of drought. Then the overland portage could be as long as upwards of 100 miles with no paddling between the Chicago River and the Illinois River near LaSalle/Peru.
Used and well-known by the Native Americans, the portage was first used by the Europeans in the mid-17th century. It became a major gateway for exploration and pioneer expansion to the West and for the fur trade. The portage at Chicago was discovered in September 1673 by Frenchmen Père Jacques Marquette and his guide Louis Jolliet as they returned from their voyage of exploration down the Mississippi River. A 36-year-old Marquette, already in bad health, spent his last winter of 1674-75 near the portage, and died in May 1675 near Ludington, Michigan. Numerous missionaries, soldiers, pioneers, voyageurs and traders into Illinois Country passed through the portage, including René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle (1643-1687) and Henry de Tonty (1649-1704). Starting around 1700, Europeans were kept out of the area by Native Americans who continued to use the portage extensively as the native peoples had done for centuries before the European arrival. Over the first half of the 18th century, the portage restricted non-Indian travel.
Ceded to the United States in 1795 in the Treaty of Greenville, the portage route was meticulously mapped and developed in the 19th century to meet the needs of greater interstate commerce. The Illinois and Michigan Canal was built along this route in 1848 mainly using Irish immigrant labor in its construction. In 1907, the Sanitary and Shipping Canal was built and remains in use today. The western terminus site is located in today’s city of Lyons, Illinois.
Made Chicago’s Founding and Thriving Possible
Since 1950, the historic Chicago Portage is owned and part of the Cook County Forest Preserve system. In 1952 the U.S. Department of Interior recognized the historic importance of the portage by officially designating it a National Historic Site. The site is also part of the I & M Canal National Heritage Corridor. The eastern end of the portage route is the site of Fort Dearborn, by Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River near today’s high-traffic DuSable (Michigan Avenue) Bridge. Fort Dearborn was originally constructed in 1803 to protect the trade route made possible by the portage and through what would soon became Chicago, the “City of the Century.”