By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — A shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe and a crown that adorned it at the former St. Joseph Church have been reunited in a new display at the Putnam Museum. Bishop Thomas Zinkula blessed the “Faith and Sacrifice” section of a display that includes the shrine and crown and is part of a new exhibit called “Common Ground: Our Voice, Our Stories.”
Nick and Cindy Reyes of Sacred Heart Cathedral previously belonged to St. Joseph Parish and Nick discovered the shrine, which had been moved to the cathedral’s basement. Volunteers at the cathedral since St. Joseph closed in 1999, they were working in the cathedral basement when “I noticed a sheet covering something,” Nick said. He ignored the covered object on several visits until the day he noticed the partially pulled-back sheet. He peeked in and saw the shrine. He immediately reported his discovery to then-pastor Father Rich Adam.
Hispanic families from both sides of the Mississippi River purchased the shrine in 1946, Nick said, holding a St. Joseph Parish anniversary booklet at the Putnam dedication that showed a photo of the shrine taken at the parish.
“The shrine was in rough condition (in the basement),” Cindy said. Nick suggested to Father Adam the repair of the shrine and then its donation to a museum or another place for display. Father Adam agreed. The crown was in a safe at the cathedral, but staff did not realize it belonged with the shrine.
Rachel Mullins, president and CEO of the Putnam, said the new Common Ground exhibit is the culmination of two decades worth of research and shows the sacrifice that many made in the Quad-City area. She was excited when Nick, an original member of the St. Joseph Parish’s Guadalupan Society, shared his vision for the shrine and crown. However, the shrine needed work. The museum hired private conservator Patty Grewe-Mullins of Atlanta, Georgia, to do the restoration. She attended the blessing and dedication and told The Catholic Messenger that the shrine (made primarily of plaster and some wood) sustained water damage in a flood. “The marbling along the bottom was mostly gone,” she said.
Using fragments of the marbling and paint from the upper half of the shrine, Grewe-Mullins replicated the original colors as she restored the shrine. It now has a new plaster base, new marbleizing created with paint, and cream and gold colors for the upper half. The crown was in good condition, she said. A replica painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe was painted elsewhere to fit in with the shrine’s display.
Members of the Hispanic community at St. Anthony Parish attended the dedication, some wearing the traditional attire worn on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December. A small choir sang songs in Spanish.
Father Guillermo Trevino, pastor of parishes in Columbus Junction and West Liberty, read the Liturgy of the Word in English and Spanish. Bishop Zinkula blessed the display praying, “We entreat your kindness, that this place and its facilities, and especially this exhibit honoring Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, will contribute to leisure activities that renew the spirit and enlighten the mind. Grant that all who meet here may find the enrichment of companionship and of learning and together offer you the praise that is your due. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.”