Four States, Some Ponies, and a Shrine

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WV, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia today. Went out to Pennsylvania to take Sam and his cousin to the miniature horse farm a couple of miles away from Gettysburg. Later passed through that most dismal of memorials (the area here is filled with them--Harper's Ferry, Antietam, Shiloh, Gettysburg, all within a few miles of one another). Sobering and deadening in many ways. I don't handle WBS sites very well.

However, it was worth it because our route home took us through Emmitsburg, Maryland--a lovely small town nestled in the green hills of central/western Maryland. There, of course, is the shrine of the first American-Born saint--Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton.

The shrine itself is enormous and stirring. There is a basilica that holds the remains of mother Seton in a side altar. There is a retreat center and I think a home for aged Sisters of Charity. But also present are two important houses--the Stone House where she attempted to start the first schools in the area. She was ultimately prevented by the pervasive anti-Catholic sentiment that still knows little surcease. Also present is the so-called "White House" in which Mother Seton died.

These houses are wonderful because they are both early-American homes and the houses of a great American Saint. God blessed the country greatly with a Saint of the caliber of Mother Seton. Many who followed her had her as first example. I think most particularly of St. Katherine Drexel, who continued the work begun by Mother Seton in helping the disenfranchised and the underprivileged.

The grounds are quiet and make for a nice, leisurely, meditative walk. For those who live in the DC area, and who have not visited, I would recommend a day trip during the weekend. I was with my protestant in-laws and arrived too-late at any rate, but I was not able to attend a Mass at the Shrine. Even the drive to the shrine is beautiful. Of course, traffic around D.C. being what it is there are traffic jams even out here where corn fields stretch to the very edge of the country roads that wind through the wide green expanses. It isn't difficult to picture yourself in the times of Mother Seton. It also isn't hard to think about her becoming one of the first Americans--she was about two years old when on July 2, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, creating a new nation that had yet to win that independence.

Any way, it was a beautiful end to a wonderful day. When I get the chance I'm going to post a couple of pictures from the trip--both the shrine and the pony farm. I also bought a couple of books about Mother Seton that include generous selections from her own writings. I hope to share some of those soon. The trip moved me greatly althought I honestly didn't really expect it. God blesses us in all the things we do to honor Him.

He blesses me also in the people who stop by here each day to read. Thank you so much for your generosity. I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me.

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Dear Steven,

Here's our favorite book on Mother Seton.

I spent a week in Gettysburg back in 94, walking the battlefield each day with my books and cigars. Fond memories!

Cheers -


Ah, Mother Seton! Ah, Emmitsburg! The other great site to visit there is Mount St. Mary's University, including the seminary (where I have been for two years, with four more to go) and the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes. We are celebrating the bicentennial of the beginnings of all this--1805 cross planted where church would be built; 1808 seminary instruction began; 1809 Mother Seton arrived; and so on. It's a beautiful place, with such a rich heritage, to spend a number of years.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 5, 2005 9:03 PM.

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