In September this year, a precious gift was offered to survivors and others seeking to heal from abuse and trauma. A prayer labyrinth at the Sorrowful Mother Shrine in Bellevue, Ohio, was opened to offer a place where victims of abuse can pray, meditate and heal. Called the Healing Place, it was constructed by Missionaries of the Precious Blood, who serve at the shrine, along with their lay associates and other volunteers.
“The labyrinth is meant as a place of reconciliation and healing,” said Fr. Leon Flaherty, C.PP.S., who organized the effort. The Healing Place draws on an ancient tradition, as labyrinths are found in many spiritual traditions and cultures around the world. Dating back to a time before Christ, they have been incorporated into many Christian traditions. They were part of many European cathedrals in medieval time, such as the famous labyrinth at the Chartres Cathedral in France. There, Catholics who could not make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land were encouraged to walk the path of the labyrinth instead. Today, 21st century Christian pilgrims are rediscovering the use of labyrinths as another way to pray and grow closer to God. “Each walk around a labyrinth is unique to the pilgrim who traces its path,” Fr. Flaherty said.
The labyrinth at the Sorrowful Mother Shrine is made of crushed granite with a red outline to represent the Blood of Christ. It sits in the shadow of a large crucifix on the shrine grounds. The group hopes to add benches, landscaping and other amenities in times. “People who come to the labyrinth will be walking quietly in front of a crucifix. If there ever was an abuse victim, there he is,” Fr. Flaherty said.
The shrine is open to pilgrims and all who wish to pray, every day of the year. “Our Precious Blood spirituality promotes reconciliation and healing,” he continued. “The original idea was to provide a place for victims of clergy abuse. But it is a place where any victim of abuse is welcomed, anyone who feels the need for healing.”
For more information about the Sorrowful Mother Shrine visit sorrowfulmothershrine.org. The Missionaries of the Precious Blood is a religious society of priests, brothers and lay associates founded in 1815 by St. Gaspar del Bufalo. Society members work as missionaries in parishes in the U.S. and abroad, in education and in a wide range of apostolates, promoting the cause of God’s reconciliation worldwide.