Shrine of the Christ’s Passion
St. John, Indiana
Just 30 miles from Chicago, a large plot of Indiana farmland has been transformed into one of the most unusual prayer trails in the world.
The Shrine of the Christ’s Passion is a half-mile path studded with 40 life-size bronze sculptures that depict Christ’s journey from the Last Supper through his ascension.
Crowd favorites include the Last Supper, a depiction of Jesus being nailed to the cross, the tomb and — the ultimate favorite — his ascension.
“People walk around the corner and gasp in awe,” said Paul Anderson, general manager of the shrine. “After seeing the brutalization by Roman soldiers and Mount Calvary, the Ascension is very moving.”
The path is meticulously landscaped to resemble the Holy Land and lined with speakers playing original scores composed by two young Chicago musicians. Each scene includes a listening station with a recording about its historical significance, followed by a short meditation.
“It touches people’s hearts,” Anderson said. “They walk this path and leave wanting to walk a better path from now on.”
The shrine is expanding beyond the original trail. This spring, organizers will unveil a bronze statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments above Mount Sinai. Though not to scale, the mountain reaches nearly 60 feet. This newest scene is in addition to a sanctity-of-life memorial and a 33-foot-tall statue of Mary.
Special for Groups
The shrine is free thanks to a multimillion-dollar donation from the Indiana couple who created it, but groups that want to support the shrine can head to the gift shop, which has gained a reputation of its own. All proceeds go to support the ministry. The newest section of the gift shop will include a large conference room. Groups often request a meeting space for pastors or guide leaders to speak after the tour. That room will be open and available for rental by late spring.
Downtown Chicago is an hour away, but groups that want to stay out of the big city have several other options. Fair Oaks Farms, a 45-minute drive away, is one of the largest dairy farm tours in the nation. In addition to learning about the production of milks and cheeses, visitors have a front-row seat to watch calves being born. Within 20 minutes of the shrine is the Albanese candy factory, which offers the only gummy bear production tour in the United States. Also close is the Indiana Dunes, with 15 miles of beaches.