|Found: "Mrs. Van Hoof and Shrine, Necedah, Wisconsin"|
circa 1950s on Kodak RPPC paper
|Found: "Crucifixion Shrine, Queen of the Holy Rosary, Mediatrix of Peace Shrine, Necedah, Wisconsin"|
published by G. R. Brown Co., Eau Claire, Wisconsin, circa 1970s
On a summer drive home from Sparta along Wisconsin Highway 21, we spotted signs pointing to the Queen of the Holy Rosary Mediatrix of Peace Shrine in Necedah. Unaware of this infamous Wisconsin pilgrimage spot, we pulled over to check it out. Another sign asked women wearing shorts to put on a supplied wrap around skirt made of heavy cotton duck to "observe modesty in dress" while visiting.
A series of elaborate glass-encased passion shrines (see above post card example, note wounds) encircled the former Van Hoof farm. We learned the Roman Catholic female goddess/icon oft-referred to as the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) appeared to a "farmer's wife" named Mrs. Fred Van Hoof (1909-1984) nine times starting in 1949--often in her farmhouse bedroom. A replica of the farm house stands amongst the shrines. Life (magazine) covered one of Mrs. Van Hoof's apparitions on page 21 of the August 28, 1956 issue after 80,000 descended upon the small Wisconsin town cramming the grounds with cars and pleas for healing and deliverance from nuclear annihilation. In the printed matter we picked up from For My God and My Country, Inc., the organization operating the shrine, conflated the BVM, flying saucers, anti-abortion campaigning, and American patriotism. Hence, they broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. The group has been building an ambitious cathedral, House of Prayer, following the instructions Mrs. Van Hoof received from the BVM. With only the concrete foundation completed, it looked like a flying saucer landing pad. A web site documents slow yet continual work. There was an info center/gift shop. We bought rosaries, scapulas, books, and other Catholic ephemera. The last time we passed through, a turbulent thunder storm was rolling in. We had just enough time to revisit the Sacred Spot Place of Apparition. Lighting streaked through the sky and we made one negative recording a glowing apparition.