El Camino: Road trip across America

El Camino: Road trip across America
Photo by Teresa Puente

Before I take a trip, I always make sure I have a pendant of the Virgin Mary in my suitcase.

I pinned her inside my orange rolling suitcase as we prepared to leave Chicago for a cross-country road trip. I also said a Hail Mary.

My husband and I are spending our summer vacation on the road. We will visit some friends and family in Texas and California. We also will board a cruise for Alaska in Seattle. Along the way, we will just explore and see what we discover.

We left Chicago early Tuesday afternoon and took U.S. 41 through Indiana. In northwest Indiana it seemed all we saw were strip malls. We lamented not taking the expressway.

But then we saw her - Our Lady of the Millennium. She is a three-story tall stainless steel depiction of the Virgin Mary that weighs 8,400 pounds. She is located at the Shrine  of Christ’s Passion in St. John.

Now I have seen many images, sculptures and shrines to the Virgin Mary. I traveled across Mexico and visited shrines to the Virgin of Guadalupe, other depictions of Mary and the saints.

But never have I seen a Mary so resplendent. The sun shined so bright that it looked as if she had a halo of light around her.

I’m Catholic but not a strict one.

But here at the start of the trip there she was. It was a sign that as we drive thousands of miles from home that she will watch over us on our camino.

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