A Brief Historical
Britanny is a land noted
for its pilgrimages, and that of Folgoet is one of the chief of them. In
1419 a church took the place of a small chapel of Our Lady in the forest
of Lesneven, and it became the center of a big ecclesiastical
establishment, with a pilgrim-shrine.
In 1380 there lived near
Lesneven, a good old man named Salaun or Soloman. He had no one to care
for him, lived alone, and did not associate with any person; he walked
with his eyes on the ground, but his heart, in Heaven. Old and crippled
as he was, he might be seen every evening hobbling toward the chapel of
the Blessed Virgin where he spend most of the night in prayer, after the
villagers had returned to their homes. He was of the woods, and here
where the chapel was built, he slept under an oak near a fountain. He
begged for bread, and was often laughed at, jeered at and mistreated by
the small boys.
One day when the
villagers were on their way to the chapel, they found the old man in the
snow , dying of exposure. They tried to help him, but with the words"
Ave Maria" on his lips, he went to His Queen in Heaven. Legend further
relates that he was buried in an out-of-the-way place, since he had no
family to mourn him. When spring came, a snow- white lily rose from the
outcast's grave, and on the petals in letters of gold were the words, "
Ave Maria! "
After a checkered
history, the shrine fell into decay and was destroyed by fire during the
Revolution. It was restored by the people in 1818 and the venerated
image of Our Lady was brought back and crowned in 1888. The pilgrimage
has grown in popularity ever since.
Saint James at Sag Bridge
parish was founded in 1833 as a "mission". (Archeologists have
determined that Saint James was not the first man made structure on the
"Sag- bluff". The French claimed the location sometime in the 1600's. A
fort or signal post was constructed. . Father Jacques Marquette may
have offered Mass here in 1675.
St. James Cemetery is
listed in the National Register of Historic Places. St. James is the
oldest parish in northern Illinois still functioning at its original
Our beautiful and quaint
stone church building is one of the oldest church structures in the
entire State of Illinois. The stone is from a local quarry. Two other
Chicago landmark buildings also used stone from the Lemont-Sag quarries:
The famous Chicago Water Tower and Holy Name Cathedral. Three buildings
make up our parish structure. The first is the unique and beautiful
church; the second, the rectory built with the same stone in 1940; the
third, Saginaw Hall built in 1912 and remodeled in 1970. The large main
gates, fabricated in 1905 for Western Electric in Cicero, were installed
at the entryway in 1980.
In 1998 "Our Lady of the
Forest" grotto and Our "Memorial Pathway to Mary", was dedicated, having
been built in the tradition of old by the parishioners themselves. At
the same time, the magnificently restored and totally renovated church
was rededicated by Cardinal George on May 3, 1998.
The church is situated in
the middle of a cemetery, on a high hill, with has a 19th century charm
with a quaint rustic isolation. Surrounded on all sides by forest
preserve, it is a magnificent place for beauty, prayer; meditation and
resting in peace.