Shrine of ‘Two Hearts’ Celebrates Jesus and Mary
Hillside Gardens and Stations of the Cross Offer Oasis of Prayer
Sunlight filters through a vibrant stained-glass window of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary and pools on a 10-foot-tall statue depicting them.
Carved from a single block of wood and resting on a three-tier pedestal, the figures of Jesus and Mary are the focus of the Triumph of the Two Hearts Shrine in Hinckley, Ohio, an apt site to visit June 12-13 this year for the feast days of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts.
With his left hand on his mother’s shoulder, Jesus points to his heart with the right. Before him, Our Lady seems to extend one hand to visitors and places the other near her own heart.
Open 24 hours a day, every day, the shrine perches on a gentle hillside of acreage owned by Our Lady of Grace Church in the Diocese of Cleveland.
“The shrine brings us [the parish] spiritual blessings by the people who frequent it throughout the year,” said Father Joseph Mecir, the current pastor. “They come day and night, regardless of the weather, from far and wide and from all denominations.”
Idea Born in Prayer
The inspiration for the shrine came to a parishioner in 1989, as she prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. Over time, she convinced her parish of the need for a shrine dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
A committee assumed the project. The architect who donated his services chose the shrine’s location on the hillside at the edge of a forest.
Longtime volunteer Pat Guzy and her late husband, John Guzy, joined other families to pray the Rosary at the site even before construction began.
“Kids would run around picking wild flowers,” Guzy recalled. “It was a beautiful thing.”
The shrine was completed in March 1998. Bishop James Quinn officiated at its dedication.
Although visitors can access the shrine by a driveway lined with fruit trees, most choose to reach it by a rolling, paved path. Accompanied by the songs of robins and chickadees, they pass traditional Stations of the Cross. Each of the 14 stations features a large stained-glass scene embedded in stone. The Blessed Mother appears in all of them, watching in the background, waiting at the foot of the cross or cradling her Son’s broken body. Her presence underscores their closeness and her witness to Christ’s passion and death.
Gardens honoring Mary and specific countries flank each station. A garden dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, for example, represents Mexico, while Our Lady of Lourdes is for France. Recent flowering plants include daffodils, primroses, irises and violets, but blossoms change as the season unfolds.
A Children’s Garden delights young visitors after the last station, near the shrine’s entrance. A sign invites kids to pluck a flower as a gift to Jesus and Mary.
Set on a wide base and open on one side, the shrine overlooks the meadow bordering the stations. Inside the high-ceilinged, triangular wood-and-stone structure, visitors are drawn to the statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Kneelers, benches and candle stands surround it. Before the statue, a stand holds vases where children (and sometimes grown-ups) leave their floral offerings.
Exiting the shrine, visitors stroll along the flower-lined “God the Father Walkway” to a gravel drive. En route to the parking lot, they pass three island gardens, where benches allow them to stop and pray.
Marigolds, coneflowers and a Japanese maple flourish in the Trinity Garden, while the Immaculate Heart of Mary Garden features lamb’s ear and pastel flowers. Plants in deep red, orange, yellow, blue and purple adorn the Sacred Heart of Jesus Garden.
A glorious cross rises beside the driveway. Illuminated at night, it was erected in memory of Ohio’s aborted babies. Visitors are encouraged to say the prayer for mercy engraved on a posted plaque.
Labors of Love
Donated labor created much of the shrine, from the design of the stations to the installation of a drainage system.
“It seemed that whoever was needed just happened to come around at the right time,” Guzy recalled.
Parishioner Joan Cossel spent countless hours laying out the gardens.
“I did it because of the love we have for God and Mary and in thanks for all he has done for us and given us,” Cossel said.
When Cossel purchased some flowers for the shrine from a hybridizer, he allowed her to name one of these the “Two Hearts Daylily.”
Terminally ill with cancer, Cossel’s late husband, Vince Cossel, traveled to southern Ohio to fetch donations of dogwoods, trees that continue to bloom on the grounds today. Woodworker Ken Hahn fashioned signs identifying each of the gardens.
The shrine is self-sustaining, largely because of volunteers, but also because of its annual plant sale.
Families and individuals adopt specific gardens every year. After each harsh Ohio winter, they clean up the flowerbeds and then weed, water and trim as needed. Some, like Cossel, annually renew this commitment. Other volunteers perform occasional chores such as mulching, planting annuals or sweeping the shrine.
Every Thursday, a group prays the Rosary at the shrine, moving into the church in bad weather. An annual Eucharistic procession celebrates the feast days of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On an evening in September, the faithful make the Stations of the Cross by candlelight to mark the Triumph of the Cross (Sept. 14). This tradition began just days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Repeat visitors appreciate the peaceful, prayerful ambiance.
Said Pat Guzy, “They enjoy the quiet time.”
Jerri Donohue writes from Brecksville, Ohio.
Triumph of the Two Hearts Shrine
Our Lady of Grace Church
1088 Ridge Road
Hinckley, OH 44233
Gardens at the Shrine
Gardens surrounding the Stations of the Cross honor the Blessed Mother and Divine Mercy. The gardens also represent specific countries. They are:
- The Divine Mercy (Poland)
- Our Lady of Knock (Ireland)
- Our Lady of Sorrows (Slovakia)
- Our Lady, Help of Christians (Italy)
- Our Lady of Lourdes (France)
- Our Lady of Medjugorje (Croatia)
- Our Lady of Fatima (Portugal)
- Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico)
- Our Lady of Loreto (Italy)
- Our Lady of Victory (Europe)
- Our Lady, Queen of Peace (France, Hawaii, the Philippines, Africa)
- Our Lady of Altötting (Germany)
- Mary, Queen of Angels (France, Costa Rica)
- Our Lady of Czestochowa (Poland)
- May 31-June 13, 2015