La Crosse Area Chapels

A December road trip with a friend took us to the western Wisconsin city of La Crosse. Upon arrival, we were greeted by eight inches of fresh snow that had fallen the previous night. A primary intent of our trip was to attend a Silent Night program sponsored by the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse. This Christmas program took place at the San Diamano Chapel on the Viterbo University campus.

While in the La Crosse area, we also visited three other houses of worship: Mary of the Angels Chapel, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, and the Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Winona, Minnesota. Descriptions and photos of each of these spiritual centers follow.

San Diamano Chapel

This information from the Viterbo University website describes the San Diamano Chapel.

San Damiano Chapel is the central place of worship for the Viterbo community.  It is named in honor of the little Italian chapel of San Damiano, where St. Francis of Assisi heard the words from God:  “Francis, go rebuild my Church.”  Today, Viterbo University’s San Damiano Chapel is a beautiful space for prayer, liturgical celebration, personal reflection and an exquisite dwelling to hold, nurture, and build upon our Catholic identity and our Franciscan heritage.

The Silent Night, An Advent Singing Bowls Experience at San Diamano included, besides Christmas hymns sung by choirs, a Sound of Bowls segment. According to the Franciscan Spirituality Center’s program description,

Tibetan singing bowls produce sounds that invoke deep states of relaxation, naturally assisting one in entering expanded states of consciousness and meditation. The sounds create a deep communication with our inner world that opens us to the Divine. Enjoy an evening of captivating renewal in the presence of ageless bell sounds.

Mary of the Angels Chapel

Visiting the Mary of the Angels Chapel was a highlight of our trip. My friend and I were able to attend Mass there on Sunday. Quoting the Heritage Tour of a Franciscan Neighborhood brochure,

Known also as the Maria Angelorum Chapel, this outstanding 6,000 square foot red brick Romanesque Revival chapel was designed by architect Eugene R. Liebert of Milwaukee and replaced earlier chapels that were attached to St. Rose Convent. Construction was begun in 1901 but was not completed on the towering multi-storied landmark until 1906.

The shape of the chapel is a traditional cruciform mass with multiple arms, including two pairs of pyramidal twin towers on the east and west ends with a massive central tower. A buttressed apse on the east end contains the Adoration Chapel. The roof is covered with glazed dark red and green roof tiles. The highly ornamental brick exterior walls sit on a cut limestone basement wall. Architectural details include blind arcading along the eaves, three stained-glass rose windows with stone tracery and buttresses on all sides. More than 100 stained-glass windows were imported from the Royal Bavarian Art Institute of Munich, Germany. The exterior of the chapel is essentially intact and unaltered.

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

We concluded our tour of La Crosse area houses of worship with a visit to the Shrine of  Our Lady of Guadalupe. This was another highlight of our weekend. The Shrine’s website explains:

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe began as a blessed and holy inspiration enhanced with the dedication and hard work of many generous faithful. A spiritual destination for pilgrims from all over the world, who yearn for the peace, love and compassion that Our Lady of Guadalupe promises.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin, faithful to the message of the Blessed Virgin Mary through her appearances on the American continent in 1531, serves the spiritual needs of those who suffer poverty in body and soul. It is a place of ceaseless prayer for the corporal and spiritual welfare of God’s children, especially those in most need.

Our visit to the Our Lady Guadalupe Shrine took us to the Pilgrim Center, main Church, and the Votive Candle Chapel, as shown in the photos below.

Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka

A side trip to visit a relative in Minnesota took us across the Mississippi River to the Island City of Winona. While exploring the city, we stopped by the Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka. While not in La Crosse or even Wisconsin, a visit to this church augmented our tour of La Crosse vicinity houses of worship. Winona is only about a half-hour north of La Crosse on the Minnesota side of the river. We were fortunate to arrive there early on a Sunday afternoon while a Mass was still underway. We were able to enter get some interior pictures of the sanctuary.


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