Reverence for Mary
Holy Hill is dedicated to Mary's honor under the title Mary - Help of Christians. Many people wonder why the Catholic Church has such great reverence for Mary. The simple reason is that she is the mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and since we honor our own mothers, all the more reason to honor His. The Catholic Church, however, carries greater depth of meaning in its Marian tradition. In order to understand why great recognition is given to Mary, we must understand the nature of her Son. Mary's son is the Divine Logos in full humanity. Jesus of Nazareth is the incarnate Word of God - the Word made Flesh. Mary is the Theotokos the God-Bearer. She allowed the Divine Logos to take on human flesh within her body by the power of the Holy Spirit. It was she who brought Jesus into the World (the Incarnation) that He might redeem all mankind. With her Fiat - "let it be", she said yes to God and by this act of faith, enfleshed the Second Person of the Triune God (Lk 1:38). She became the mother of the Second Person of the Trinity who is God not in part but in whole - who is man not in part but in whole. She is justly called the Mother of God because Jesus Christ is Lord and He is her son. She is the God-Bearer because she brings her Son to all humanity (Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431).
In praise to the Lord, throughout time society has attempted to express the eternal love of the Father through the gifted hands of the artist. In keeping with this tradition, Holy Hill is privileged to house two beautiful representations of His love. They are the monstrance titled The Glory of Mary and the shrine statue, Our Lady of Holy Hill.
Designed by Friars Adrian Cooney and Damien Pugh, O.C.D. and Fr. Richard Fale, a diocesan priest, and titled The Glory of Mary, this monstrance is an artistic work of love used to present Mary's son to us in the Blessed Sacrament at Benediction. Through the generosity of many who donated precious stones and metals, and of one who assumed the cost of workmanship, the monstrance is a wealth of Christian symbolism in keeping with the entire shrine.
Within the monstrance, the consecrated host is held in a diamond-set wreath of golden roses and is surrounded by thirty-three simulated rubies signifying the earthly life of Christ. On the outer rim the lettering reads, Ave Verum Corpus Natum De Maria Virgine - Hail, True Body, Born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The main cross design displays the symbols of God the Father (the Blessing Hand); Mary, in her title Mystical Rose (the spray of roses), and St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus and His mother (represented by the sheaf of lilies). A brilliant diamond below the hand of the Father represents the perfection of the Trinity. Rays extending from it represent the flow of Divine Grace through Christ in the Eucharist to the carved-ivory dove (symbol for the Holy Spirit). These rays continue to the statue of Mary to show her privilege in bringing the source of all healing power to the world on which she stands. Her halo of diamonds represents her charisms: the Immaculate Conception (she was exempt from all contamination that is sin), confirmation in grace, divine maternity, perpetual virginity, the miraculous birth of her Son, her holy death, her incorruptibility, the Assumption, the Coronation and her mediation of graces. The base is embellished with a vine design embodying her genealogy, reproducing part of that which is engraved on the front of the Shrine Alter. The inscription on the base of the monstrance reads: "Radix Jesse, Germinans Flosculum", 0 Root of Jesse, Bringing Forth the Flower."
The excellent craftsmanship done by the Szchwarzmann Company of Trier, Germany, and the elegant diamond setting done by Bokoski and Zarder of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, result in a masterpiece of sacred art that will always be a testimony of Mary's glory, her Divine Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Shrine Statue
The life-size statue of Our Lady of Holy Hill is a beautiful representation of Mary presenting her Son to the world. This masterpiece was made in Munich, Germany and brought to America by the Pustet firm for the Philadelphia World's Fair in 1876. A devout Wisconsin man purchased the statue for Holy Hill but for practical reasons it was first taken to St. Hubert's Parish in Hubertus where it remained for two years. On July 1, 1878, eighteen young barefoot women dressed in white robes with blue ribbons, carried the statue from St. Hubert's in Hubertus seven miles to the log chapel at the top of Holy Hill. The women were escorted by an entourage of 100 men on horseback, many priests and delegates from all over the state. These dedicated pilgrims filled the air with prayers and songs as they processed to their goal.
The ivory colored and gold leaf statue of Our Lady of Holy Hill now stands in the beautiful 40 x 50 foot shrine chapel to the right of the sanctuary in the upper church. Below the base of the statue is an elegant bouquet of hand-beaten bronze roses covered with simulated ruby-studded rosettes strung together by a rope of simulated sapphires. The statue is set against a circular wall of pink-veined Kasota marble.
The chapel altar, also of pink-veined Kasota marble, matches the circular wall behind the statue perfectly. The front of the altar is engraved with the family tree of Jesus according to Matthew's gospel. At the lower left, the figure of Abraham is portrayed as he dreams of his descendents. One of them, King David, is represented by the crown in the center.
Beautiful stained glass windows in the shrine chapel illustrate the Hail, Holy Queen. They arrived from the Van Treeck studios in Munich, Germany via the St. Lawrence Seaway in March of 1958. They were installed at no charge by Matthew Lechner that year.
The original shrine chapel in the present (third) shrine church was smaller than the existing Sacred Heart shrine. Construction for the current shrine chapel was supervised by Fr. Stephen Dzuban. The dedication ceremony took place on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1956 and was presided over by Archbishop Roman R. Atkielski of Milwaukee. The homilist was Bishop William P. Connor of the Madison diocese.
Reverence for Mary is further expressed in the beautiful stained glass windows of the upper church. These windows, also done by the Van Treek studios are pictorial statements of Marian theology.
Of the fourteen high windows portraying Mary's life, the two larger windows illustrate her relationship to the Order. The remaining twelve show her personal life. When facing the main sanctuary the windows at left from the front of the church to the back portray: the birth of Mary with her parents, St. Anne and St. Joachim, and an attending midwife; Mary's presentation in the temple; the traditional scapular vision of St. Simon Stock; the betrothal of Mary and Joseph; the Annunciation; the Visitation and the Nativity. Beginning from the front of the church on the right they portray: her coronation as Queen of Heaven; the Assumption; Mary's appearance to the three Carmelites saying, "Ecce Fratres", Behold Brothers, the Descent of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Family; the flight into Egypt, and the presentation of Jesus in the temple.
The eighteen small windows previously hidden by the confessionals are symbolic illustrations of Mary's charisms. There are ten small windows (five on either side of the church at eye level) that illustrate the sorrowful and glorious mysteries of the rosary.
The beautiful Rose Window above the choir loft gives honor to the Immaculate Conception, national patroness of the United States. The twelve angels from the Apocalypse of St. John surround her. In the center below, Adam and Eve are shown leaving the garden of Eden; the promise of a redeemer is illustrated at left and the announcement of His awaited arrival is on the right.
The windows above the altar are the Lamb of God (at left) and the Pelican with the pierced breast, an early Christian symbol for Christ on the right.
Even before the building of the first log chapel, pilgrims left crutches, leg braces and canes at Holy Hill. Today, this practice is continued by pilgrims who believe that Mary and her son, the Lord Jesus Christ, have healed them through the power of intercessory prayer.