Trinidad Area Catholic Community
Ave Maria Shrine
The Nature and Origins of the Ave Maria Shrine:
It is well known that, in addition to their great love of Jesus, many Christians have great love for Mary, His mother. They include Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans (known as Episcopalians in the United States), and others. This shrine is a tribute to the love of Mary of the Catholic people of Holy Trinity Parish in Trinidad. It is certainly part of our local historical and artistic heritage.
Many people also experience it as a place of powerful spiritual presence, healing, and peace. We warmly welcome all visitors. We pray that, as you pause here on your life’s journey, you will find this a place of consolation and grace for you. We ask this whether you are a person of faith or no faith. We ask it for you, no matter what your faith might be.
Plans for the present chapel were started in 1934. The chapel was built through
the efforts of a group of local Catholics much devoted to Mary. They were
known as the Circolo Mariano. They worked under the leadership of
Rosanna Vecchio. Over the years many such faithful persons have helped
develop and maintain the shrine and its surroundings. Many of them are
commemorated by name both inside and outside the chapel.
This shrine continues to be developed and maintained through the generosity of many persons both in this area and visitors from many states and other countries. It is a great witness to the faith and devotion of especially local Catholic Christians but also many others.
The Legend of the Shrine:
Devotion to Mary has always been very popular among many Christians. It remains so today. There are many special shrines and images of Mary throughout the world. Pilgrimages to them also remain very popular and frequent. There are few that do not have a legend attached to them. Our shrine, too, has its legend. It has proved impossible, however, to verify it. The family of the doctor involved has asked that we discontinue the use of his name, and we respect their request.
The legend, in brief, is as follows: In1908 a doctor was heading home at dawn from the old Mount San Rafael Hospital nearby in a snowstorm. He was having serious troubles managing his horses and buggy. He then saw a light up the hill off the road. Out of curiosity he stopped, got out, and walked up the hill to explore it. What he found was a statue of Mary with a light burning before it. (This is supposedly the statue that is behind the altar in the present chapel.) He stayed safe by the statue until daybreak.
We do not know if this story is true or not. Still, it does remind us of a couple of things about Mary: Many Christians witness that Mary is for them a refuge. Many Christians venerate Mary under the title of Our Lady of Light (Santa Maria de la Luz). Perhaps these are things all of us should be looking for here—refuge and light.
Thank you for visiting our shrine. May many special blessings go with you as you leave us and continue your journey. And may your stop here also be a source of blessings for your family and friends.
To visit the inside of the chapel, please call our Trinidad Area Catholic Pastoral Center at (719) 846-3369, extension 140, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, except holidays. We will try to get someone to open up for you. It is best to make arrangements at least 2 days in advance.
A Word About Mary:
In the New Testament, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the first to hear the good news (gospel) of Jesus. She is also the first to respond to it in faith (Luke 1:26-38). [The words Ave, Maria are the Latin for the opening words of the prayer known as the Hail, Mary. They echo the greeting of the angel Gabriel to Mary in Luke 1:28.] Mary’s true greatness is to be one who listens to the word of God and is obedient to it (Luke 11:28). In this way Mary’s whole being glorifies God (Luke 1:46; see all of Luke 1:39-56). Mary gives birth to Jesus (Luke 2:1-20; see also Luke 2:21-52 and Matthew 1:18-2:23). In the Gospel of John, it is through Mary’s intercession that Jesus works his first “sign” or miracle (John 2:1-11). On this occasion Mary says her most important words—words we can take as also addressed to us: “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you” (John 2:5). Again in the Gospel of John, Mary is said to have stood at the foot of the cross of her son (John 19:25). From his cross Jesus gives the disciple whom he loves to his mother and his mother to this disciple (John 19:26-27). Down through the ages many Christians have taken to heart Jesus’ words: “Here is your mother” (John 19:27). In the Bible, we see Mary for the last time at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. She is in the upper room with the apostles, disciples, and relatives of Jesus after Jesus, risen from the dead, is taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1-11). This group includes women. Mary is gathered with them. She is in their midst as they pray and wait for the coming gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:12-14; see also Acts 2:1-47). Still today, many Christians find great comfort in joining their prayer to Mary’s.
A Word about Our Parish:
This beautiful shrine now belongs to the Catholic Diocese of Pueblo. It is administered by Holy Trinity Catholic Parish. This parish was founded in the 1860s. It covers an area of 3,000 square miles—from the Colorado-New Mexico border on the south to about mile 30 on U. S Highway I-25 on the north; from the Sangre de Cristo mountains beyond Stonewall (on the “Highway of Legends”—State Highway 12) on the west and all the way out on the prairies to embrace Trinchera and Branson on the east.
There are two now inactive Catholic churches in this parish in Trinidad itself—Mount Carmel and Saint Joseph. Many of our active and inactive mission churches dot the landscape to the east and west. The Pastor of Holy Trinity Parish is the chief administrator of the shrine. A special shrine committee of local Catholics advises him regarding decisions about the development and maintenance of the shrine, and many others help in many ways. The mailing address for inquiries and donations is: Ave Maria Shrine 235 N. Convent St. Trinidad, CO 81082