Pope Francis declared an Extraordinary Year of Mercy, beginning Dec. 8, 2015, and ending Nov. 20, 2016. Bishop Donald Kettler has designated places of pilgrimage and shrines within the St. Cloud Diocese for this Holy Year, inviting the faithful to experience grace and reconciliation as they rediscover joy in the mercy of God. A pilgrimage passport to encourage people to participate in this jubilee was introduced in the Dec. 18 issue of The Visitor. The passport may also be found at http://visitor.stcdio.org/year-of-mercy. Click on “Pilgrimage Passport.”

This is the last of the five shrines being featured. The series has spotlighted the St. Cloud Shrine at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud (Jan. 15 edition), the National Shrine of St. Odilia in Onamia (Jan. 29), the Divine Mercy Shrine in Sauk Centre (Feb. 12) and the St. Peregrine Shrine in Collegeville (Feb. 26).

Assumption Chapel (Grasshopper Chapel)

Assumption Chapel (Grasshopper Chapel)

Where is it?

The Assumption (Grasshopper) Chapel is located on the east end of Cold Spring. Turn off Highway 23 by the traffic light and onto 3rd Ave. SE; turn left at the corner onto Chapel Street and immediately take a right up Pilgrimage Road to the chapel.

What will you see?

At the top of the hill sits a granite chapel dedicated to our Blessed Mother. Granite steps leading to the chapel mark the steps early pilgrims walked and prayed on their pilgrimages. Over the entrance doors of the chapel is a stone carving of Mary with the Latin inscription, “Mary has been taken up into heaven.” At her feet, two grasshoppers kneel in submission. Rosary beads are carved around the scene.

Through the Holy Doors is the granite altar. On its front panel is a cross with the Lamb standing beneath it; on the crossbeam are two doves representing Christians. Above the altar is a statue ofOur Mother and Child that was carved in 1877 by Joseph Ambroziz of St. Joseph and placed in the first wooden chapel. Imported stained glass windows depict the life of the Blessed Mother.

On the grounds are granite Stations of the Cross.

What’s the history of the chapel?

In 1877 the shrine was built by Benedictine Father Leo Winter with the help of his parishioners, in response to a need to end the grasshopper plague of 1873.

Rocky Mountain grasshoppers (locusts) had destroyed crops in the southwestern counties of Minnesota. In 1874, 1875 and 1876, the Minnesota Legislature appropriated funds to help farmers, but millions of grasshoppers continued to hatch and devastate the area. Besides devouring plants, grasshoppers also attacked livestock such as cattle (which then died from blood poisoning), infested homes and even ate the clothing hung out on the clothes lines — bringing total crop failure for farmers. In the spring of 1877, Gov. John

Pillsbury declared a Day of Prayer. Benedictine Father Leo Winter suggested his parishioners ask for Mary’s divine intervention, building a chapel in her honor (called Mary’s Help, or “Maria Hilf”). They would offer a Mass every Saturday, or whenever possible, for her intercession to free the area of the plague of locusts.

On donated land, the chapel was completed Aug. 14, 1877; the following day, it was dedicated and the first Mass was celebrated. The plague ended that summer. More information may be found in the book “The Story of Mary and the Grasshoppers” by Robert J. Voigt.

What to do when you are there:

For the jubilee indulgence, pass through the Holy Door and internally express a detachment from and rejection of sin, pray for the intentions of the Holy Father (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be), make a profession of faith, go to confession and receive Holy Communion within 20 days of pilgrimage. Meditate on the mercy of God. Attend Mass and eucharistic adoration during the summer.

  • Hours to visit: Holy Doors are always open. The gate opens after the snow melts.
  • Masses celebrated: Thursday evenings in May and June with rosary at 7 p.m., Mass at 7:30 p.m.
  •  Aug. 15, Feast of the Assumption: Adoration from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., ending with Mass at 7:30 p.m. (For information on the Thanksgiving Mass in July, check The Visitor calendar.)

For more information, call St. Boniface Church at 320-685-8222, or visit www.stboniface.com.