||Visitors Guide to
Our Lady of
Portage des Sioux, Missouri
the flood of 1951 the Mississippi River had risen so high that it threatened
Portage des Sioux for the first time in the history of the town. In a 1957
article The St. Charles Banner-News reported:
“While the streets of
many riverbank communities disappeared beneath the rising waters, something
important was happening in Portage des Sioux, Mo. Father Edward B.
Schlattmann, pastor of St. Francis Church, called upon his parish Legion of
Mary to pray to the Blessed Virgin. For the first time anywhere, Mary’s
protection was sought under the appellative, “Our Lady of the rivers.”
The surging current swept over the roads leading into Portage and lapsed
hungrily toward the town. Isolated and frightened, Portage people watched
helplessly as the water inched nearer their homes. After two weeks, when the
flood finally crested, their community was mostly high and dry.”
In gratitude, the
parish decided to erect a statue on the banks of the river, dedicated to
“Our Lady of the Rivers.” Word of the project spread, and contributions
came in from all over the United States. In October 1957, ten thousand
people attended the dedication of a 25-foot fiberglass statue of Mary
mounted on a 20-foot concrete pedestal that sits at the water's edge looking
across the Mississippi to the bluffs above Alton, Illinois.
annual tradition of the Blessing of the Fleet in July soon followed. Hundreds of
decorated boats gather from miles around to receive a blessing from the town
priest asking for Mary's intercession to protect their vessels from harm.
After the blessing the boats parade up the river to the nearby town of
Visiting Our Lady of the Rivers
There is no charge to visit our Lady of the
Directions: Portage des Sioux is located approximately 12
miles from St. Charles and 9 miles from West Alton. Take MO-94 to CR J and
then 1 mile into Portage des Sioux. Take a right on Common Field Street and
go approximately 1/4 mile to Le Seurre Street and follow this street to the
river and the shrine.
Our Lady of the Rivers Shrine - a site about the shrine maintained
by a group dedicated to its upkeep
Blessing of the Fleet - a site maintained by the group that
organizes the annual June Blessing of the Fleet event.