Loretta Marten

In 1959, a local catholic church and its youth council were in search of a place to put up a monument to the Virgin Mary.  12-year old Loretta Marten asked her father to put up the statue on his farm, located along Route 66 outside of Raymond, IL.   He agreed and a statue was ordered from Italy.  In 1959, over three hundred people attended the dedication ceremony, and  ever since, it has been a Route 66 landmark drawing travelers from near and far.  The significance of the Virgin Mary resonates across the Globe. For some, she is an interpretation of earlier Goddesses like Artemis, Athena and Aphrodite.  For others, she is the blessed Mother– a symbol of compassion and purity unique to Christianity. Perhaps the fluidity of interpretations is because she says so little in the bible, thus she is a vehicle for the seeker’s projections. The Martens family still maintains the shrine, though both Loretta and her father have passed away.



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