Our Lady of the Sierras Shrine

Our Lady Of The Sierras (Cerro De La Virgen), South Twin Oaks Road, Hereford, Arizona, Združene države Amerike

Website of the Sanctuary

+1 520-378-2950

Every day: 9:00am until Sunset

Our Lady of the Sierras

This small private Sierras Shrine, open to the public, is located on a mountain side in Southeast Arizona, part of the Huachucan Mountain Range, at an elevation of 5300 feet. It was initially opened March 1998.

See more Catholic Shrines and pilgrimages in North America.

See top 15 Catholic shrines around the world

Our Lady of the Sierras Shrine

History of Our Lady of the Sierras Shrine

In 1987 a couple from northern Illinois [Gerald and Patricia Chouinard] came down to the area to visit a family member and while hiking stumbled across a “for sale” sign in the weeds indicating a parcel of land was available in Ash Canyon on the lower mountain slope.

This parcel allowed an unlimited panoramic view to the East of the high desert San Pedro valley 400 ft below and opposite to the West the winter snow capped Huachuca Mountains.

Upon investigation the couple purchased eight acres of land in 1988 for their future retirement home and consigned an architect to draw up plans for a unique hillside residential home.

In 1990 just prior to commencing construction the couple felt called after reading an article about a religious event happening in a place called Medjugorje, Yugoslavia.

In November 1990 as with many thousands of others they went on the Medjugorje pilgrimage with a small group flying out of Chicago. With the usual unforeseen hardships the couple found an area that radiated “much spirituality”,especially impacting the convert wife’s Catholic faith.

It was one of the few times individuals were seen pushing to get into a church.

Our Lady of the Sierras Shrine

However the couple did not experience very much exceptional visual phenomena as many others did. Most visually impressive was the mountain view of the valley below while standing by the large stone cross located on Mt. Kriscivac.

It had some similarities to the land they had purchased for their new home above the 5,000 foot high Arizona Sonoran desert. Upon returning in November 1990 the couple commissioned the construction of their Arizona home which was completed in late 1991.

Near the end of the construction as the husband was standing with the contractor looking down into the San Pedro Valley below, He [the husband] said it would be charming to erect a twenty foot cross that faces the valley below.

This was the moment destiny began its further course. Thinking of the cross in Medjugorje, the size and composition of the proposed cross grew. As a result of an atrium being constructed in the couples home they became familiar with a company in Tucson that was capable of fabricating large remarkable creations formed out of fiber glass, steel and concrete composition.

Upon consultation it was determined that if a larger cross was desired one could be built over 70 feet high. The wife expressed a strong desire that a statue of The Blessed Virgin Mary belonged next to the cross. It was discerned that the statue of Mary should have an outstretched arm pointing to the cross; not only to the cross but also to Mexico which is five miles due South.

Our Lady of the Sierras Shrine

Structural plans were then drawn up for the proposed project and then the Cochise County Planning Department was consulted for preliminary approval.

Initially they, [now called the founders] were told what they had in mind probably could not be done in Cochise County.

Regulations did not normally allow structures, religious or not over thirty feet high. However there were a few exceptions; one being that monuments were exempt. They were also told no permit could be issued on the two proposed structures alone.

It was then determined that a small chapel would be acceptable to comply with the Cochise County regulation and the cross could legally be considered a monument.

Again destiny dictated a small unplanned chapel would join the Cross and Madonna statue. Many other situations and regulations almost stopped the project.

Based on tentative county permit approval the Cross and Madonna fabrication projects were commissioned in the fall of 1993.

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

History of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Sierras

It may trace back to the forming of the Huachuca Mountains that were formed eons ago by our Creator in Southeast Arizona. In early times when the Native Americans occupied the area, legend confirms the mountains already had spiritual meaning to them. In the early 1600’s the shrine area was first explored by the Spanish and later became part of Mexico. Upon the signing of the Gadsen Purchase in 1853 the area became a territory of the United States. By the 1870’s well before Arizona became a state the area became known for mining, lumbering and raising cattle. The Indian chief Cochise and Geronimo were some of the last hold outs in what is now Cochise County Arizona. Nearby Fort Huachuca was opened in 1877 to deal with the Indian problem and was the early home of the Buffalo Soldiers. This fort is now the “Intel Center” of the US military and is located 12 miles North of the shrine next to the city of Sierra Vista, Arizona. To the East are the old west towns of Bisbee and Tombstone.

Although the state and federal governments own the majority of land in Arizona some land became available for private use due to land grants, mining claims under “patent laws” and purchases through normal channels. In 1987 a couple from northern Illinois [Gerald and Patricia Chouinard] came down to the area to visit a family member and while hiking stumbled across a “for sale” sign in the weeds indicating a parcel of land was available in Ash Canyon on the lower mountain slope. This parcel allowed an unlimited panoramic view to the East of the high desert San Pedro valley 400 ft below and opposite to the West the winter snow capped Huachuca Mountains. Upon investigation the couple purchased eight acres of land in 1988 for their future retirement home and consigned an architect to draw up plans for a unique hillside residential home.

In 1990 just prior to commencing construction the couple felt called after reading an article about a religious event happening in a place called Medjugorje,Yugoslavia. In November 1990 as with many thousands of others they went on the Medjugorje pilgrimage with a small group flying out of Chicago. With the usual unforeseen hardships the couple found an area that radiated “much spirituality”,especially impacting the convert wife’s Catholic faith. It was one of the few times individuals were seen pushing to get into a church.

However the couple did not experience very much exceptional visual phenomena as many others did. Most visually impressive was the mountain view of the valley below while standing by the large stone cross located on Mt. Kriscivac. It had some similarities to the land they had purchased for their new home above the 5,000 foot high Arizona Sonoran desert. Upon returning in November 1990 the couple commissioned the construction of their Arizona home which was completed in late 1991. Near the end of the construction as the husband was standing with the contractor looking down into the San Pedro Valley below, He [the husband] said it would be charming to erect a twenty foot cross that faces the valley below. This was the moment destiny began its further course. Thinking of the cross in Medjugorje, the size and composition of the proposed cross grew. As a result of an atrium being constructed in the couples home they became familiar with a company in Tucson that was capable of fabricating large remarkable creations formed out of fiber glass, steel and concrete composition.Upon consultation it was determined that if a larger cross was desired one could be built over 70 feet high. The wife expressed a strong desire that a statue of The Blessed Virgin Mary belonged next to the cross. It was discerned that the statue of Mary should have an outstretched arm pointing to the cross; not only to the cross but also to Mexico which is five miles due South. Structural plans were then drawn up for the proposed project and then the Cochise County Planning Department was consulted for preliminary approval.

Initially they, [now called the founders] were told what they had in mind probably could not be done in Cochise County. Regulations did not normally allow structures, religious or not over thirty feet high. However there were a few exceptions; one being that monuments were exempt. They were also told no permit could be issued on the two proposed structures alone. It was then determined that a small chapel would be acceptable to comply with the Cochise County regulation and the cross could legally be considered a monument. Again destiny dictated a small unplanned chapel would join the Cross and Madonna statue. Many other situations and regulations almost stopped the project. Based on tentative county permit approval the Cross and Madonna fabrication projects were commissioned in the fall of 1993.

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

Posted in North America and United States