The new St. Mother Theodore Guerin/St. Theodora shrine is now open, and it is a destination to put on your travel list. Only a small percentage of canonized saints are native or naturalized North Americans, so the opportunity to come so close to the remains of a saint is rare on our continent.
In the hallway before the shrine are a series of dioramas that tell the story of the founding sisters’ journey to the New World and their early missionary work here. The miniatures offer a visual description of the perseverance needed to establish the first school and convent and survive the harsh life of the wilderness.
Continuing down the hallway and beyond the double doors is the modest entrance to the shrine.
Once visitors enter the doorway nestled beneath the adoration chapel, the site is surprisingly spacious. Quotes from St. Theodora, or Mother Theodore Guerin, which is the name the Sisters have always known her by, and information about her and the works of the Sisters of Providence, are sprinkled along winding pathways.
Her personal items also are exhibited in such a way that it isn’t difficult to imagine St. Theodora using them right there.
The main part of the shrine that features the saint’s remains is simple and bright. You can kneel before the coffin and even reach across and touch it. To be so close to such a holy person’s remains is quite a moving and inspiring experience.
The document declaring St. Theodora’s canonization is displayed in that room as well.
The shrine is located on 1200 acres shared by the Sisters of Providence motherhouse and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College campus.
Throughout the grounds, notable information is offered on markers that highlight where St. Theodora and her companions first stepped off the carriage, lived, and worked. You’ll even find a replica of the cabin where Bishop Brute, the first bishop of Vincennes, offered the first Mass at St. Mary-of-the-Woods.
©2014, Mary K. Doyle