“I cannot tell you what passed within me…I do not know myself, but I was so deeply moved that I could not utter a word.” These words were written by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin on the day of her arrival in 1840. It’s a moment that was defined for us in 1840, and it has never lessened. Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience:
You enter through tall iron gates, and continue down a peaceful avenue where trees are perfectly lined up to meet you. Subtle rays of sunlight dance on the sidewalks as you pass by the most ornate of buildings and structures. Among them, are beautiful bridges that cross over sparkling waters and valleys. The noise of the outside world is silenced, and you hear only the song of a bird and the musical chiming of church bells. It is as if the Woods has been expecting you. Struck in awe, you can’t help but wonder if it was Providence that brought you here.
What is it about the Woods that creates this experience for its guests? It could be the breathtaking landscape and the beautiful buildings, but one could argue that. The grandeur is a blessing, but does it contribute to the feeling of calm healing? Or does the spirit of Mother Theodore’s love for this place press through our hearts the moment we enter?
After traveling for months, losing nearly everything she had, and enduring the danger of the wilderness and swamplands, Mother Theodore (and her companions) landed here. At that time, it was nothing but a dense forest. Yet, Mother Theodore was overwhelmed by the emotion that it presented. This Woods was the place of her future. Did she know then, that this experience of her own would be rooted in the grounds of these Woods from that point forward?
You will never know the “Providence Moment” until you feel it. You must listen to the bells as they call you down the avenue to the Church of Immaculate Conception. Step inside and witness the vast ceilings and soaring marble pillars and share a moment with Mother Theodore. Perhaps you would like to say a prayer at an ivy-covered rock grotto, or run your hands over the Saint Anne Chapel walls that are paved entirely of shells.
This is not just a home to the Sisters of Providence; it is much more than that. This is a sacred site of healing, a venue for prayer and reflection, and a place of spiritual renewal. Many people travel from around the world to witness the natural beauty of the grounds at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. When you visit, you will understand exactly why.
Whether it’s a day of simply going for a walk, enjoying Sunday Brunch, attending Mass, or scheduling an official tour of the grounds, we welcome all visitors. If you’re looking for a place where you can lift up your heart and embrace the love that these Woods have to offer, Providence may be calling you.