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Summer is a beautiful time here at Our Lady of Victory Convent (OLV) in Lemont. Next to the convent is a place of peace and tranquility where many go for prayer and reflection. Here one can view the natural beauty of the outdoor grounds where religious shrines and statues grace the landscape surrounded by colorful flowers and tall trees. In 1936, the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago laid the cornerstone for their first convent in Lemont, which was being built to house their aged and infirmed Sisters. The convent construction would be completed in 1937 and the Sisters would move in that summer.

Next door to the new convent there was a vast acreage of forest woodland and hills. Pathways were built and many flowers, plants, and trees were planted and arranged artistically throughout the Sisters' property. Two stone grottoes dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi were placed along a ridge in a wooded area across from the convent. They were completed and dedicated in 1936. Next to these grottoes, the stations of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary were erected. Each station was built with cement and their bases were made of tufa rock, which is a type of limestone. Benches were placed close by for people to sit on and appreciate the beauty around them.

In 1939, in an adjacent area, the Stations of the Cross were built. These stations were also made of cement and their bases set with tufa rock. Along the path, one can walk among the stations to pray and reflect at each one. Placed at the entrance is a statue of St. Francis with the Wolf of Gubbio and a beautiful archway with the Polish phrase Wieczny Odpocznek (Eternal Rest) sculpted on it. One can begin their journey to the Stations of the Cross through this archway. This entire area was dedicated to the memory of all the deceased Sisters and was donated by generous benefactors, friends, and families of the Sisters.

A few years later, the Sisters decided to build another grotto nearby and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This grotto is a replica of the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes located in France. It was built thanks to the generosity of Sr. M. Praxed Ostrega. Sister was the administrator at Guardian Angel Daycare Center, a ministry sponsored by the Sisters. Sister M. Brunona Szwagie was in charge of the construction and building the rock shrine. This project was finished and dedicated in 1946. Over the years, Sister Brunona spent a lot of time beautifying the area by planting flowers, weeding, and maintaining the area

Next to the Stations of the Cross, is a statue of Venerable Mary Theresa Dudzik (Joesphine Dudzik), foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. This statue depicts Josephine holding a young boy named “Legless Joey.” Joey serves as a symbol of all the orphaned and needy children Mother Mary Theresa helped over the years. Above the Franciscan grottoes, overlooking the area on a green peaceful hillside is the cemetery of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. In this quite serene place, a statue of Our Lady of Grace stands alongside the graves of all the Sisters who have passed over the years. Adjacent to the cemetery lies a pond full of fish and lined with long cattails. Often one can see wildlife such as deer, coyotes, foxes, and squirrels roam the grounds.

Today, people can still see the beauty of this religious sanctuary created over 80 years ago. It remains a place of prayer and reflection for all to enjoy. Every year the OLV plant operations team takes pride in maintaining the upkeep of the area. We thank them for all the work they do to keep it so beautiful, and we give praise and thanks to so many from the past who helped design, create, and build this religious sanctuary for all to enjoy.