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A Bit of Eden in The Berkshires

" There's a miracle everyday" at The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.

Aerial view of Shrine Imagine an oasis high in the hills with sprawling green open spaces - a quiet spot where the only sounds are birds chirping and trees rustling in the breeze - a retreat that soothes the soul and refreshes the spirit - where miracles happen every day. The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy is all this and more. Located on top of Eden Hill in Stockbridge, it attracts some 50,000 pilgrims per year. Built between 1950 and 1960 by an Italian craftsman, it is an architectural masterpiece, reminiscent of shrines found in Italy. Its warm colors, Italian statuary, intricate floral carvings and polished marble are home to a Divine Mercy image, which is enthroned above the main altar. Shrine Interior The image is the focal point of the Shrine, depicting Jesus Christ with rays of glory bursting from his heart, representing God's mercy - His healing presence. It is a reproduction of the original painted under the supervision of Saint Faustina Kowalska after the Lord appeared to her in a vision in 1931, asking her to have an image painted according to the pattern she saw. This became known as the Divine Mercy image. The message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of St. Faustina, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God's mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread. "First and foremost, the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy is a Roman Catholic shrine dedicated to the mercy of God. This is a place to come and learn about, and even experience, God's mercy," says Shrine spokesperson Patrick Novecosky. "We invite people of all faiths to come and enjoy the grounds - 350 acres with sweeping views of the Berkshire Hills, similar to the Smoky Mountains - very beautiful, and very unique to the Northeast. The grounds are open to the public all year round." Shrine Outside the National Shrine, you can pause for reflection in the prayer garden or at various popular outdoor shrines. There are two public candle shrines, one with 2,600 candles, the other with 1,600, where you can light a votive candle for your prayer intentions. Particularly in summer, the candle shrines are glowing with brilliant light. In the Shrine Gift Shop, you will find a variety of quality religious articles, from books on Divine Mercy to the largest selection of rosaries in the Berkshires. Though there has been one Vatican-declared miracle related to the Shrine as well as otherwise inexplicable healings on several occasions, Patrick says miracles occur at the Shrine everyday. "Anytime someone experiences God, it's a miracle. As Catholics we believe that every time we celebrate the Mass there's a miracle. Every time a heart is drawn closer to God, there's a miracle in that. It's very intimate - very easy to pray here. People come away feeling like they've prayed for the first time in years because of the spiritual nature of this place." Call 413-298-3931 or visit www.marian.org for more information.