Holy Hill Wisconsin
Digital Art - Digital Art Painting
The Shrine's history begins with a French-native hermit named Francois Soubrio, who took up residence on the isolated hill in the mid-19th century. Discovered by a local farmer around 1862, Soubrio was at first regarded with suspicion by the locals. Soon, however, suspicion was replaced by respect and a friendship developed. The farmers began to provide the hermit with food and eventually built him a small cabin.
Whatever led him to take up residence there, we do know the Frenchman learned about the hill through an old diary. Working as an assistant to a retired professor in Quebec, Canada, Soubrio found an old French diary and map (dated 1676) showing a cone-shaped mountain in Wisconsin. The diary's author described his journey to the hill's summit where he erected a stone altar, raised a cross and dedicated the place in the name of Mary as holy ground.
The Holy Hill area was first settled around 1842 by Irish natives, who named the settlement Erin Township in honor of their homeland. The Irish dedicated the hill to the Virgin Mary and were the first to call it "Holy Hill." But with a few decades, they fell on hard times and were forced to leave the area; in 1854, settlers from Germany began buying the small Irish farms. The names given during the 1960's to the picturesque country roads in the area - Donegal, Waterford, Shamrock Lane, and Emerald Drive - reflect the area's Irish heritage.
Holy Hill was for a time known as "Government Hill" for surveying work that was done there. It remained government property until 1855, when the 40 acres atop Holy Hill was purchased by Fr. Paulhuber, a native of Salzburg, Austria. Gazing upon the hill, Fr. Paulhuber is said to have declared:
In June 1858, an oak cross made from a tree growing on Holy Hill was erected and consecreated on top of the hill. The cross, which can be seen today in the Marian Hallway of the Shrine, originally stood 15 feet high and is engraved with the German words, Ich Bin das Leben wer an mich glaubt wird selig, "I am the life, who believes in Me shall be saved."
The first shrine on Holy Hill was dedicated by Fr. George Strickner on May 24, 1863. The simple log chapel was named the Shrine of Mary - Help of Christians. Simple wooden Stations of the Cross were set up alongside a newly-graded road up the hill in 1875. In the winter of 1879, Fr. Raess summitted a proposal to Archbishop Henni for a new shrine at Holy Hill; construction began in the spring.
June 10th, 2014
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