Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Group Tour magazine will continue to provide group travel inspiration. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is nestled into more than 120 private acres of woodland in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The shrine includes a neoclassical church, candle chapel, welcome center, cafe and gift shop with many outdoor devotional areas and flower gardens spread throughout the grounds.
“Some of the most common words our visitors use to describe their experience at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe are beautiful, peaceful, spiritual, reverent, solemn, serene and inspirational,” said Steve Doll, pilgrimage manager. “Groups often express their enjoyment of the shrine’s sacred architecture, beautiful grounds, peaceful walking trails, luscious flowers, tasteful gift shop and delicious meals provided by our full-service cafe.”
Visitors may take a self-guided tour of the grounds at any time during normal business hours, which are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the winter and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the summer. The staff offers a daily guided tour as well as guided tours for organized groups.
The shrine offers a daily devotional schedule including Holy Mass, holy hour and a guided tour.
A 25-minute orientation video is popular with groups and can be watched at the shrine or on the motorcoach. The guided tours cover all of the sacred art and architecture in the Shrine Church, stories of the saints and the history on Our Lady of Guadalupe and her apparition in Mexico in 1531, Doll said.
“The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is often referred to as, ‘a slice of heaven in the Midwest,’” Doll said. “There is never a cost to visit, the shrine offers ample bus parking and there are many other unique things to do in the La Crosse area.”
Often, groups will combine a shrine visit with a Mississippi River paddle boat cruise or a nearby winery. Sometimes, they take a tour down a country road in Amish country.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is fully handicapped accessible and can provide golf cart transportation for groups on the grounds. Most groups allot two to four hours for a shrine visit, depending on the group’s selected itinerary.
“Ultimately, the shrine hopes that all of our visitors leave spiritually enriched, especially those who suffer poverty in body and soul,” Doll said.
The shrine partners with the other two approved Marian shrines in Wisconsin, Our Lady of Good Help near Green Bay and Holy Hill near Milwaukee. Group tours come annually from as far as Massachusetts, Alaska and Texas to visit the three Marian shrines of Wisconsin.
For more about the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe call 877-799-4059 or go to guadalupeshrine.org.