Loretto Shrine Chapel
The Loretto Shrine Chapel of St. Nazianz was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in June of 1982. When Father Ambrose Oshwald came to the wilderness of what today is St. Nazianz, he was very grateful for all the blessings he and his little band of settlers had received. Soon after the arrival, Father set out to find a suitable place for the statue of Mary, which he had brought from Baden. An old linden tree seemed like a good spot for his precious statue. Placed in a nitch, high above the surrounding area of wilderness, Mary could watch over the little band of settlers.
Much to the dismay of Father Oshwald, the linden tree was uprooted by a spring storm. However, the statue was unharmed.
Next a simple, crude little grotto was placed on a stone with Mary placed within. A branch blew the wooden part of the grotto down. Again, the statue was unharmed.
Now, the settlers constructed a small chapel on a very high hill. Mass was said and many people came to the chapel. The chapel had to be enlarged because people from far and near came to witness the healing powers of the saintly priest, Father Oshwald.
After Oshwald died people made pilgrimages to the chapel on the hill but vandals and time eroded much of its charm.
In May, 2000, the little village suffered much damage from a super cell type wind and the Loretto Chapel was not spared. A tree fell on the roof and for a while there was talk of letting nature take it back to the wilderness. The St. Nazianz Historical Society couldn’t allow this to happen. Money was donated, grants were pursued and fund raisers were a success. Local talent was engaged to firm up the foundation. Today, the pink-red stucco chapel sits atop the highest hill, overlooking the village and a small lake (which also plays a part in the growth of St. Nazianz). To the west, visitors can see the rolling hills of the farmland, to the east the stately pines seem to hide the former JFK High School from sight.
The interior of the chapel has been replastered and redecorated. Opposite the entrance is an almost life-sized painting of Mary and the Angel Gabriel, announcing that Mary would be the Mother of God.
Three rose shaped lead glass windows allow the little chapel to be filled with rainbow colors when the sun is right.
The beautiful oak floor (reclaimed from the razed former Sister’s Convent) adds a warm, luxurious feeling to the visitors as they sit in the newly varnished seats for a meditation or a Mass.
We hope many visitors will come spend some time at the beautifully restored Shrine Chapel of Loretto. St. Gregory’s Catholic Church
The beautiful church stands proudly facing the west, and the old cemetery and also the new cemetery, overlooking the rolling hills of the countryside. When Father Ambrose Oshwald laid out his plans for the church and cemetery, he and his right hand man, Antone Stoll, became lost in the dense forest and had to spend the night under the stars. Finally,daylight broke and they were able to find their way back to the settlement, which was actually only about a half mile.
It was an arduous task to build this church. The settlers had only a team of oxen and much of the labor was done by the settlers. The church was not constructed of logs and lumber, but was built with fieldstone and mortar. But in 1864, Mass was said and in 1868 the cornerstone was laid and the church was dedicated by the bishop from Milwaukee.
Windows are a reflection of gothic style and the beautiful leaded windows, facing north and south, allow wonderful lighting.
St. Gregory measures about 120” by 55” and has a capacity of about 250 people and was built at the cost of about $11,000.
The bell tower and steeple were originally 148 feet from the ground.
After the storm of May 2000, the roof, windows and steeple needed to be replaced.
St. Gregory’s Church is on the National Register of Historic Places.