When we became pregnant after four years, sustained the pregnancy and gave birth to a perfect and precious little girl, we were grateful beyond all telling.
Prior to Gianna's pregnancy, Reed and I sought the intercession of St. Gianna. You may remember our encounter with her and the pilgrimage we took two years ago to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin. During Gianna's pregnancy we continued to seek St. Gianna's guidance both for ourselves and also for my physician as we went through a few rough patches along the way. We knew that a return trip, a pilgrimage of thanksgiving, needed to be made to the Shrine.
When we surprisingly were blessed again and found out this summer that a new little one will be joining the family, it became evident that we indeed needed to express our gratitude. We made plans to make the trip as a family and also invited my parents again (they went along last time) and also my in-laws this time too (they had not been there before).
Last week we ventured out for a few days to enjoy our summertime trip. Everything went off without a hitch. The weather cooperated, the kids had good behavior, Gianna endured the lengthy van ride and all of the other additions to the trip (besides the Shrine itself) were perfect.
I thought I'd catch up and share some photos for those of you who may not have been to the La Crosse area or the Shrine.
Along the way we had to make a pit stop and chose a small town named Zumbrota, which also happened to be the home of the only original covered bridge left in Minnesota.
The next morning we headed to the Shrine to spend most of the day. The weather was overcast, so it helped keep the temps. down and we were able to enjoy all of the walking around the grounds.
The beautiful Votive Chapel where I had them light a candle for 30 days for my readers' intentions.
Lily with her patron, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks.
A sculpture of St. Joseph the Workman, along with Cardinal Burke and the couple who donated the land for the shrine.
At the top of the hill sits the church, memorial for the unborn, stations of the cross and rosary walk. It is so serene and beautiful to behold.
As last time, I had to get a photo by the painting of St. Gianna. Except this time, I was holding my 'Gianna baby' (as babies conceived through the intercession of St. Gianna are called) and my hidden baby too.
Our trip included many of the same stops as last time, including lunch at the shrine restaurant,Culina Mariana. I cannot rave about their food enough! I was eager to once again dine there because I enjoyed it so much last time. Again, they did not disappoint. If you ever visit the shrine, you've got to stop there for a meal.
We also made another stop at Rudy's Drive-In where you eat in your vehicle and the waitresses come out on rollerskates. The kids requested we go there again this time because they loved it so much last time. A good meal for your buck too!!
Before heading out of La Crosse, we visited the Children's Museum again too and let the kids run around. Or in Gianna's case, enjoy the many sights and sounds from the stroller.
Along the route home we stopped in Pepin, Wisconsin at an ice cream shop and the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum (it's the town of her birth).
We also made an overnight stop in Red Wing, Minnesota where the Red Wing boot factory is located. It's also the home of the world's largest boot, which we stopped to see.
What an enjoyable and memorable trip to share with both sets of grandparents and our family. It was a lot of fun and I think everyone had a really good time. These last photos were taken near the end of the trip. See? The kids still are in good moods!
*More information on the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe can be found on their website.