WINDSOR, Ohio – This month, Fox 8 is featuring summer staycations: Fun daytrip vacations for those on a budget. And for those looking for a spiritual journey this summer, you may want to consider a trip Ashtabula County.
Deep in the middle of the Windsor countryside lays a sign of inspiration.
“So beautiful. It was really peaceful to drive out here from the city areas,” said Lisa Benedetti of Highland Heights. “You come around the corner, and there she is. She’s pretty big.”
That sight Benedetti’s referring to? A statue. Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mary.
“She really kind of does strike you,” Benedetti said, who is visiting the site with family. “I don’t know if you have to be religious. Just the spiritual sense.”
The statue was brought and constructed on Patricia Heinz’s farm in 1993, and it took nearly two years to finish.
Made of 450,000 one-inch mosaic tiles, the Mary statue alone stands at 33 feet high, representing each year in the life of Christ, Patricia said. The angel below her raises the statue to a total of 50 feet, making it one of the tallest Our Lady of Guadalupe statues in the world.
Yet, to get the statue to the farm was a true feat.
Patricia said that she and her husband, Ed, bought the farm in 1987. A few years later, the family of 11 was facing financial troubles. Ed lost his job, and eventually, they lost the farm.
The family moved across the country, living in Kansas, Pennsylvania, England, a number of other places. Through a lot of prayers, Patricia said they eventually made their way back to Windsor and were able to live on their farm again.
Patricia said her family had always been invested in the church, so they decided to dedicate the farm, known as the Servants or Mary Center for Peace, to their faith. Many of the items on site were donated by the community.
“We get a lot of women who come here and are told by their doctors that they’ve tried anything in the world to have a baby and they can’t,” Patricia said. “And they’ll come out here and pray. The next year, they’ll come out here with their babies. There’s 19 that’ve been born, and one is a set of twins.”
A chapel, reception center and a number of other features are on the site, but the biggest
crowd-pleaser is the statue, which sits next a large pond, enclosed by a larger-than-life rosary.
“I think people need little, like focal points for their religion, and sometimes church alone isn’t enough,” said Anita Benedetti of Highland Heights. “If you love gardening or you love the outdoors, this kind of blends both interests.”
Patricia said the statue and the church are just a small token of thanks to those who’ve supported them through the years.
“It’s just a really peaceful time, and it gives us a sense of ‘Why did we start this place?’ Well, it’s for you. It’s for the people,” she said.
On Aug. 11, Patricia said the church will host a belated Fourth of July celebration, with vendors and a free 45-minute fireworks display. There is no official start time as of yet.
FIRST SATURDAY SERVICES:
Patricia said for those who want to attend services, they have a First Saturday service each month. Confessions start at 8 a.m., rosary at 8:30 a.m. and mass at 9 a.m. Breakfast will follow.
The Servants of Mary Center for Peace is located at 6601 Ireland Road in Windsor Ohio.
The site is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
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