Niagara Gazette

Columns

June 23, 2014

HIGGS: Continuing on with a visitor-eye view of Niagara

Niagara Gazette — I left off last week at the National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima on Swann Road in the Town of Lewiston with a group involved in the hospitality industry that have an interest in what our tourist has the opportunity to visit as a part of their stay.

Father Peter met with us and our first stop was inside the church which is under a dome measuring 100 feet in diameter and 55 feet high. The dome is made of two layers of glass and another of acrylic glass which forms a contour of the Northern Hemisphere. On top of this rests beautiful statue of Our Lady of Fatima. She stands 13 feet high and weighs 10 tons. The statue was sculpted from Vermont granite. This description was described in Wikipedia and it pretty much says what I actually saw.

Following this visit inside the main church area, we went to several smaller chapels for private use of visitors and religious groups. Stained glass predominates here along the walls as well as inside the smaller chapels. I learned that my former high school classmate Father Julio is the artist and has his own studio on the premises. We also stopped in the Relic area of the Dome for a view of the Peace Mural by Professor Joseph Slawinski. He produced this unique form of art known as Sgraffito which is particularly suited for murals of a religious, historic or ornamental nature. The mural was unveiled on Jan. 19, 1975, and was made possible by several donors. Make an effort to see this inspiring mural depicting four centered figures representing four races, embracing each other in harmony.

Back outside we climbed two flights of stairs with 63 steps which led to the top of the dome where the statue stands overlooking a heart-shaped pool which is actually a rosary and is surrounded by the 11 Apostles and St. Paul. We can see the entire grounds of the Shrine and the surrounding countryside. My only previous visit here was during the Winter Festival of Lights, so I was impressed with the beauty and simplicity of the grounds.

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