Our Lady of the Snows

Our Lady of the Snows : Rainy day view of the shrine from the amphitheater

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois, is a good spot for a day pilgrimage and is the largest outdoor Marian shrine in the United States. It is visited by over a million people each year and is great for walking or driving. 

There are a number of sacred spaces, gardens, and features in which to center the mind and spirit and quietly enter into pilgrimage in community with others who seek that connection. 

Some of these spaces include:

  • Outdoor Stations of the Cross along the half-mile Way of the Cross
  • A replica of the Lourdes Grotto in France
  • Several gardens, including Annunciation Garden, Agony Garden, and Resurrection Garden
  • Church of Our Lady of the Snows, including a living waters font
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Hill (behind Annunciation Garden), which depicts Mary’s appearance to Juan Diego, a recent convert to Christianity in Mexico
  • Mother’s Prayer Walk along the curving Mother’s Memorial Wall
  • Father’s Memorial Wall, honoring Joseph the Carpenter and all fathers
  • The main shrine and amphitheater
Church of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville

The Story of Our Lady of the Snows

While many of the titles of Mary, mother of Jesus, are related to her sorrow or to her miraculous appearances to the faithful, there is a story behind Mary as “Our Lady of the Snows.” 

In 352 A.D., a couple lived in Rome. They prayed to ask what they should do with their wealth when they died, since they had no children to leave it to. 

In response, they received a dream in which Mary told them to use their wealth to build a church in her honor. The site they were supposed to build this church on would be shown to them by the appearance of a miraculous snow there.

The next day, the husband approached Pope Liberius, who was a friend, and discovered the pope had received the same dream. 

On the following day, a hot August 5th, snow covered Esquiline Hill. They staked an outline around the place where the snow fell and built a church there in 358 A.D. 

The original Our Lady of the Snows in Rome

Every August 5th, they shower white rose petals from the dome of the basilica in Rome to remember this legend. 

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows is named in honor of this. Every year, they celebrate the Annual Novena to Our Lady of the Snows from 28 July – 5 August. 

Things to Know

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows is a 200-acre landscaped property in Belleville, Illinois — near St Louis, Missouri. There is a guest house and a number of gardens and sacred spaces for prayer and meditation on the property, making it a natural site for retreat or pilgrimage.  

Mass is held twice daily. 

A live-action recreation of Christ’s Passion is performed along the Way of the Cross during Holy Week. There is also a 1.5 mile Way of Lights Christmas display around Christmas time, including a life-size Lego Nativity.

To coordinate directly with their on-site Pilgrimage Coordinator, you can contact them at:

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows – Reservations
442 South De Mazenod Drive
Belleville, Illinois 62223-1023
Phone: 618-394-6270 or 800-682-2879

Website: snows.org 

Inspiration for the journey ...

5 Amazing Paris Cathedrals & Churches you shouldn't miss! The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of these. It's absolutely unique & like a little bit of Russia right there in Paris.

The image of God we hold is personal & important ... and something each culture transforms into its own. But how does God see us (and does it matter)?