Bearing your Cross
When Our Lady entrusted to St. Juan Diego her request for a “sacred little house,” she promised that this house would be a haven where the suffering would find her mercy: “There I will listen to their weeping, their sadness, to remedy, to cleanse and nurse all their different troubles.” Accordingly, at her Shrine in La Crosse, many pilgrims come, some from great distances, to entrust to her maternal heart “all their different troubles” of body or spirit. One particularly striking example is that of Joe and Mercedes Nunes, who visited from California at the end of May.
Through Sickness and Health
Joe and Mercedes’ story is exceptional: When they met, they were already in their forties. Joe had lost his first wife, while Mercedes had waited decades for a husband. “People told me to pray to St. Joseph; I did that novena, and on his feast day I already knew [Joe] was the man,” she recalls. Their joy, however, would soon be mingled with great suffering; only five months after their wedding in 2009, Joe was diagnosed with a pheochromocytoma, an extremely rare tumor.
Due to the resulting surgeries and extensive radiation treatments, any significant physical activity is difficult for Joe. “It’s not curable, it’s just something you can delay the final result of,” he explains. For nearly fourteen years, the couple has borne their cross in faith for the salvation of souls: “Whatever is in God’s desire and design, we’re called to evangelize, and we’re called to carry that cross,” says Mercedes. Even so, they have also continued to pray for his healing.
Spirit of Faith
After hearing from a woman whose husband had been healed of cancer through Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mercedes felt that God had spoken: “I just had this overall sensation that Our Lady wanted something—a healing—for Joe.” What shape that “something” would take was not immediately clear; Joe’s health made travel challenging, which prompted careful consideration and finally deterred them from attempting a trip to Our Lady’s Shrine in Mexico. “The next decision was, it had to be the official Shrine in the United States of Virgen de Guadalupe,” says Mercedes.
Thus, their response of faith brought them to the Shrine in La Crosse, where they not only honored the Virgen de Guadalupe but received a blessing with the relic of St. Peregrine, patron of cancer patients. “We were advised by several people … to ask to have that special blessing,” Mercedes notes, “because there were reported miracles through that relic.”
The same spirit of faith that has sustained Joe and Mercedes in their years of trust and prayer led them on their long journey from home to Our Lady’s Shrine. “I think Our Lady has really wanted to be a part of Joe’s healing,” says Mercedes, “whether it be just physical, spiritual, or mental.” Indeed, as our Mother said to Juan Diego, she wants to listen to all her children’s troubles and offer them a remedy of one kind or another. In her “sacred little house,” she is always eager to receive the suffering with her maternal heart.
Our relics are available for public veneration on the Saint’s particular feast days and specially blessings can be arrange if you ,contact the Shrine. Additionally, some of our relics are permanently on display in the Shrine Church at the side altar.