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At home in nature

Mother Theodore as a healer


The images chosen for the stained glass windows in the shrine were chosen with a meaningful purpose. The above are Linden leaves.

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin’s passion as a healer went hand in hand with her love for nature during her ministry in the forests of Indiana. Mother Theodore had previously trained while in France in how to use plants and herbs for healing. She brought this talent to her new life in Indiana and used her skill to care for the sick and poor in her new land. It must have been Providence that Mother Theodore found her beautiful woodlands at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods abounding with plants and herbs to help with her ministry.

“American Cone flower”

Among those herbs and plants was echinacea, also known as the American Coneflower. This is still a popular herb, believed to help boost the immune system. Echinacea had been used by Native Americans for hundreds of years before the arrival of European settlers. It thrives in open woodlands.

Linden leaves

The dried flower, leaves, and wood from the Linden tree are also used for medicinal purposes. Mother Theodore, among many others, often used these for treating colds and stuffy noses, as well as sore throat and breathing problems.


Historically, dandelion was prized for a variety of medicinal properties. It contains a number of pharmacologically active compounds. It has been used as an herbal medicine to treat infections and liver problems, and as a diuretic.

Mother Theodore utilized all of these during her sojourn here in the Woods.


The American coneflower is portrayed on the stained glass window.

Can’t you just imagine Mother Theodore reaching down to pick a beautiful American coneflower, dandelion, or even her favorite linden leaf while taking a walk in the woods on a gorgeous spring day?  Perhaps after one of her many illnesses, she needed to get outside and enjoy the bounty of nature. Can you picture her bringing them inside and preparing them as a tonic or drink to bring back some color to her face? All three plants were plentiful in these woods in her time, as they still are today.

Representation of all three plants grace the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin in a very nontraditional way: as stained glass windows. The plants were chosen for the windows with special meaning. Their design in the windows is both abstract and figurative.

We invite you to come sit and mediate on these stained glass windows. They have the power to draw us into a part of Saint Mother Theodore’s life here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. The shrine is open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Providence Spirituality & Conference Center.

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Sister Jan Craven

Sister Jan is a Sister of Providence. Currently she ministers as co-director of Providence Spirituality and Conference Center and as director of shrines at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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