Spring is the perfect time to honor Mother Mary and perhaps take a drive on a little adventure, don’t you think? As a child, our family often took Sunday drives to familiar and unfamiliar places. Most times they led to us checking out a well built and beautifully detailed church (Many were left unlocked back then.) and finishing out our journey by locating the nearest Dairy Queen. Now with my own family, we don’t make those same Sunday drives, but we have located a few great spots where we’ve found Mary. I’ll even share our favorite place to pray and honor Blessed Mother Mary at the very end!
- Grasshopper/Assumption Chapel, Cold Spring
This was a common destination for our family when I was younger. Driving up the hill and finding the serene trees and quietness around the chapel was always a treasure. Being there was a prayerful experience, whether inside the cold granite chapel or enjoying a picnic out in the grassy areas. In the summer time, you can even head here for one of the Masses during their annual novena of Masses (watch the Visitor for dates). Read the story about how the chapel came to be and its significance.
- Stella Maris Chapel, St. John’s University
Grab your comfy shoes and head out for a walk along The Chapel Trail to find this hidden gem. St. John’s was also a common place where my family headed in my younger years, especially to walk out to the wooden pedestrian bridge that spans the freeway. Just last summer, I took my kids and we met up with my parents and brother’s family for an afternoon trek. With kids ranging from toddlers to teens and a couple of strollers, it made for quite the eventful memory, but it was great to see the renovations and enjoy the woods.
- Mary Garden, Sacred Heart Church, Sauk Rapids
Living an hour away from St. Cloud, we only recently discovered this one while on our Holy Thursday Seven Churches visitation tour. Tucked away around the side of the church, following the pleasant path and over the bridge, you’ll find Our Lady of Guadalupe. (I’d like to see this one when in summer bloom.)
- Our Lady of the Hills, Millerville
If you’re up for a pleasant country drive to find a 22-foot high Mary beyond the Alexandria area out on a gravel road, this one is for you. The statue was built in 1993 in thanksgiving for answered prayers. The size alone is captivating and kids are impressed with her magnitude in this little hidden away spot. While you’re out driving, you could also make a stop to climb up to Inspiration Peak, the highest point in the area, to gaze out over the land and praise God’s goodness. This makes a great Sunday drive, and family memory worthy outing. Find a bit more and directions here.
- Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Christ the King Church, Browerville
While stopping in to visit the church a couple of summers ago (If you haven’t seen this magnificent church, you really should stop in and pay Jesus a visit in this exceptional place.), we found the rock grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Set in the small wooded area next to the church, it’s a sweet alcove to stop and pray while taking in the enormity of God’s creation in the shadow of the towering church. If you’re following my family’s tradition of ice cream treats along the way, Cherry Grove Market on the edge of town serves up hand dipped ice cream in their little store (closed Sundays).
- Mary Garden, Our Lady of the Angels, Sauk Centre
This is our family favorite! Being that we’re just a short 15 mile drive from this peaceful spot (and there’s a DQ in this town as well), it has become a favorite place to stop for a few minutes, to pray an the rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet. Set to the side of the church, between it and what used to be a parish house, once you step within the well designed and landscaped garden with climbing greens and statues of the archangels along with Mary, serenity overcomes you. It is well tended and the flowers are always so exquisite that it surely is just a glimpse of heaven.
Whether it be in your home, church, town next door or a Sunday drive away, find a way to encounter Mary this May or this summer, in a new and special way. May she keep you under her mantle of watchful protection.