Recently we were able – at last – to visit the Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia, at Marian Valley, Beechmont Road, Canungra, QLD. As with most places run by the Order of St Paul the Hermit, it was well off the beaten track.
To find out all the official information about this place, visit www.marianvalley.org . However, don’t depend upon the map on their website. Use a proper map or a Google search, and be prepared for a few winding roads.
Compared with their sister site at Penrose Park, near Berrima, NSW, this one was more compact and we could park much closer to the main devotional areas.
Sadly we didn’t get to see the whole site, but what we did see was impressive.
Firstly there was a life sized statue of Blessed Pope John Paul the Great, and the major shrine dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians, where a priest was busy hearing confessions. From there we went along the path where all the mini shrines are located. We didn’t have time to also do the walk along the life sized Stations of the Cross, which had been provided by the Vietnamese community.
Along the route it was a joy to find many heavenly friends to greet us, and opportunities to seek their intercession for particular intentions. Among them was a Lourdes grotto including St Bernadette, St Lucy, St Barbara, St Mary of the Cross McKillop, St Anthony of Padua, St Pius X, St Padre Pio and St Gerard Majella.
Many of the mini shrines opened our eyes to the vast array of devotion to Our Lady throughout the world, especially in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the middle East – several we had never heard of before.
Other mini shrines recalled the valiant Korean martyrs and St Lorenzo Riuz, the first Filipino Saint, or reminded us of holy images from Malta and other places. Still others were under construction, notably one for St Francis Xavier.
Sadly we didn’t get to have a look at the piety store, but we did get to visit a very lovely Adoration chapel and to hear the Magnificat sung in Latin for the first time.
The places where retreatants could stay looked very nice from the outside.
Opportunities to enrich our devotional lives don’t come quite so often any more, so this visit to the Marian Shrine was a real treat. So many churches have had all of their devotional elements removed or located where they are not easily visible, that it is good that places like these still exist to remind us of our Saintly friends in heaven and of the wonders God has done in ages past and in distant lands.
So if you are planning a holiday to south-east QLD, plan to include at least a half-day trip out to Marian Valley. It took about a 40 minute drive from Surfer’s Paradise to get there. You won’t regret it.
Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us.