Sacred spaces — places for peace, reflection and spiritual communion — can be difficult to find in the highly developed Front Range.
But one such place stands to the south of Lookout Mountain, north of I-70, overlooking Golden and the entire …
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But one such place stands to the south of Lookout Mountain, north of I-70, overlooking Golden and the entire region.
The Mother Cabrini Shrine has offered a respite for the weary for more than 100 years, and continues to provide spiritual clarity and solace for all visitors regardless of faith or religion.
“We have thousands of visitors a year,” wrote Sister Roselle Santivasi, in an email interview. “They come mainly to pray, and we do have regulars that come often to visit us.”
The shrine includes the Stone House, a 22-foot statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the convent of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as well as a grotto around the shrine’s spring, a rose quartz Sacred Heart and the 373-step stairway of prayer, which also features the Stations of the Cross.
Mother Cabrini, whose given name was Francesca Cabrini, founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Italy. They were invited to the Denver area by a priest in 1902 to help serve the immigrant population and serve the community, according to information provided by Anna Dodd, the shrine’s retreat and marketing coordinator.
“At the time of their arrival to Colorado, the sisters discovered that there was a need for a girls’ orphanage. They had Queen of Heaven Orphanage for girls built just outside of the then-city of Denver, where years later it would rest on Federal Boulevard,” Dodd wrote. “Mother Cabrini loved the orphans and wanted a summer home for them outside of the city, and that’s where we come in.”
It took three transactions for Cabrini to acquire the 500 acres that would eventually be named in her honor. During a return visit in 1912, she found a natural spring on the property, commissioned the Stone House for the orphans, dedicated the hill to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and formed a rose quartz Sacred Heart of stones at the top.
“Mother Cabrini wanted a summer home for the orphan girls that was away from the city and nested in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains,” Dodd wrote. “Since her death, we have developed into a place of pilgrimage and prayer in her honor and in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
As a pilgrimage site, the shrine grew in popularity over the years, particularly during the summer through mid-fall. The orphanage was disbanded in early 1970s, which is when retreats started being offered at the shrine, according to Shellie Marsh, gift shop manager and accountant.
The shrine now offers group and hermitage retreat options. There’s a conference room for business and religious retreats and planning meetings, complete with a projector screen, podium and large conference table.
The hermitage option provides retreatants with solitude and rooms with a view of the Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“Most of our self-led day or overnight retreats are for Catholics and Christians who are seeking time alone with God for prayer and reflection,” Dodd wrote. “We rent out the whole historic Stone House, once used for the orphans now used as our retreat house, for overnight and day groups. We provide meals for our retreatants, coffee services, meeting rooms and a chapel space available for reservations for prayer or services.”
There’s still more to do at the shrine for pilgrims and visitors. They can drink the spring water, visit the museum and a smaller grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Visitors often make use of the solitude provided by the rosary, meditation and Cabrini gardens, Santivasi added.
“People are surprised at the amount of sacred spaces there are here,” she wrote. “For me, this is a place where you could easily spend the whole day with your family.”
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