In his native Poland, Mary is revered as the Queen of Peace and Mercy, and Her most famous shrine is at the Jasna Gora (Bright Hill) monastery in the town of Czestochowa. The people lovingly refer to Mary as Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Black Madonna.
As a young man, Brother Bronislaus would sit by the road and watch pilgrims as they passed through his village on their way to Mary's shrine. Overcoming tremendous hardship, some of them walked for hundreds of miles, sleeping by the road, to reach their destination. The memory of these people -- the difficulties they overcame and the love and devotion they had for Mary -- remained with him throughout his life.
Brother Bronislaus wanted to share his faith with others by spreading the Glory of Our Lady of Czestochowa. So, in 1937, he began his lifetime labor of love. Clearing the thickly wooded land, he built a beautiful cedar wood chapel and hung a portrait of Our Lady above the altar. The chapel soon became a center of religious devotion, with numerous pilgrimages, prayer services and masses being offered.
Then, one Sunday evening in 1958, an arsonist started a fire on the altar. The Brothers tried to douse the ensuing inferno, but flames consumed the chapel, leaving a pile of cinders. Despite desecration, today the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos continue to serve as an important religious site for those who visit.
Webster's Dictionary defines a grotto as a cave or an artificial recess or structure made to resemble a natural cave.
The grottos at the Black Madonna Shrine are constructed of native Missouri tiff rock, which came from Old Mines, Missouri, a mining community 30 miles southwest of the site. Materials used in ornamentation -- such as sea shells and costume jewelry -- were contributed by visitors or sent from foreign missions. Brother Bronislaus built the grottos by hand, without the use of power tools.
The following is abbreviated information about structures on the property. Additional information is contained on the "The Walking Tour" page, which you can access by clicking here. Pictures of the grottos can be viewed on "The Photo Gallery" page.
Structures on the Property
The following is abbreviated information about structures on the property.
Additional information is contained on the "The Walking Tour" page.
A free "Walking Tour" brochure is available in the gift shop.
Pictures of the grottos can be viewed in "The Photo Gallery" section, which is presented further down in this information.
The Bridge -- A viewing platform that begins walking tours.
St. Francis Grotto -- Features the renowned "The Peace Prayer."
St. Joseph Grotto -- The statue of a boy playing with his dog was Brother Bronislaus' favorite.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Grotto -- It was here that Brother Bronislaus passed away.
Gethsemane Grotto -- A representation of the Mount of Olives.
Our Lady of Sorrows Grotto -- The first grotto built by Brother Bronislaus.
Assumption Grotto -- The largest of the grottos, it leads to Crucifixion Overlook..
Nativity Grotto -- The only natural grotto has been enhanced through creativity.