In my last post, I wrote about driving along TN-156 south of Lake Nickajack–further along the highway, coming into the town of New Hope, I saw a wooden sign by the roadside: “Shrine. Virgin of the Poor.”
Huh? There are a lot of shrines to the Blessed Mother in the Northeast I know of, but a Marian shrine here in Marion county? This I had to see.
It’s a long drive down a backwoods road, but after 15 minutes or so you come to a meandering driveway at the top of which is a field with this building in it:
According to a plaque at the site, the site is dedicated to Our Lady of Banneux, who the appeared in the 30s to an 11-year old Belgian girl named Marietta Beco. As the plaque further reads, “Built by Benedictine monks under the direction of Fr. Basil Mattingly in 1982, the Virgin of the Poor Shrine is located on a 600 acre farm willed to the Catholic Church by the Duncan family. The Chapel houses a statue made by a local parishioner and features an exterior mosaic depicting the appearance of Mary to Marietta in 1993. The interior mosaic shows Jesus speaking to St. John as He gives us His mother.” Father Mattingly now lives at the Peace of Prince Abbey in Oceanside, California.
It really is a beautiful and peaceful place. According to the sign, “Devotions are held every Sunday in May through October at 2:00 pm. Everyone is invited.”