Best Afternoon-Drive Destination

Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos

Visitors to the Black Madonna Shrine might expect an Afro-world of '70s kitsch. Instead, they'll find a surprisingly touching and beautiful shrine, hand-built by Brother Bronislaus Luszcz, a Franciscan who emigrated to St. Louis from Poland in 1927. The "black" of "Black Madonna" refers to the darkened skin tone of Our Lady of Czestochowa painted by St. Luke, a reproduction of which hangs in the Eureka grotto. Billed as "a shining example of what one man with faith can achieve," the shrine is a beautiful destination only half-an-hour away. Like many sights around the St. Louis area, you go once, and that's the end of it. Even if you've been once for the novelty, go again and appreciate its simplicity (especially in contrast with the prefab commercialism of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Ill.).
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