Some days it doesn’t take much – a comment, a picture -- to ignite old memories. Yesterday I read mention that today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Some of the clearest memories I have as a small boy are the walks from our home in Chicago straight down Jackson Boulevard to a large church I later came to know is the basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows. We didn’t go there on Sundays, for our church, Resurrection, was in the next parish over, but I knew it held special meaning for my mother. It was large, quiet, dim, and mostly empty when we would visit on days warm enough for a walk. My mother would light a candle, spend a few moments in reflection, and we would be off.
I now read that Our Lady of Sorrows is the patron saint of Slovakia, the Molise region of Italy, and the Congregation of Holy Cross order of Catholic priests, who, among other things, run the University of Notre Dame. Who knew?
In Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage, Fr. George Lane writes that the church was raised to the status of basilica (one of only two in Chicago) by the Pope because the Sorrowful Mother Novena rite originated there in 1937 and subsequently spread all over the world. The building was built by the Servite friars "in pure Renaissance form" and completed in 1901 of Chicago common brick with a limestone façade. Between two 200 foot towers, a great barrel-vaulted ceiling reaches 80 feet above the marble floor, and the beautiful main altar is made of white Carrara marble. The basilica features numerous original works of art and “perhaps the oldest working pipe organ Lyon & Healy ever installed.”