The National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, Massachusetts plays host to one of the best traditional Christmas celebrations in Massachusetts. Every year, the shrine is home to a spectacular Christmas Festival of Lights that covers 10 acres of a 75-acre property. The shrine is located at 947 Park St. (rte. 118) in Attleboro.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette is named for a town in the Swiss Alps where Mary, the mother of Jesus, reportedly appeared to a pair of children in 1846. The shrine is operated by the Roman Catholic missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette. They began the tradition of the Christmas Festival of Lights on December 8, 1953. It has become one of the most important times of year for the shrine because the Christmas season brings in a lot of donations, earnings from gift shop sales and the like. Without the Christmas Festival of Lights, the shrine would probably not be able to operate as it does now.
During the festival, there are numerous light displays on the property. The displays are designed by local artists. This year (2009) there is one that was designed by a Sister of the church. All of these displays and the trees on the property are lit up by more than 400,000 lights. The displays at the Christmas Festival of Lights are of a religious and traditional nature. You will not find children’s Christmas characters here. Santa is there during this year’s bazaar, but don’t expect to see him walking around and scaring the children.
I have been visiting La Salette during the Christmas season for the better part of my life. The experience, for me, is like no other during this festive season. It’s cold and outdoors, but if you bundle up, it is a very enjoyable festival. You can spend hours walking from display to display and sharing holiday greetings with the people you meet. For the religious, it is a great time to pray amongst symbols of Christianity. It is also (obviously) a great place for Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
During the Christmas season, at the Our Lady of La Salette shrine in Attleboro, there are many other events occurring, not just the Christmas Festival of Lights. There is a bazaar that is held in November in the Welcome Center Concert Hall. There are also Christmas concerts with Father Pat in the church. You may have a perpetual vigil candle lit every day for one year for $250.00. You can have them lit for whatever personal purpose you wish. Many people decide to do so for lost loved ones, whom they miss during the holiday season.
For more information on holiday season events, services and scheduling go to www.lasaletteshrine.org/services/Christmas_schedule.html
Visitors can purchase gifts and memorabilia in the shrine’s gift shop. There is also a restaurant and a bistro for hungry visitors.
The La Salette Christmas Festival of Lights is a Christian celebration, but all visitors are welcome. The festival is absolutely free, but donations are greatly appreciated, as Christmastime donations help the shrine throughout the year. The Christmas Festival of Lights is open from November 26 to January 3, yearly. The lights are on, every night, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.. For more information, go to www.lasaletteshrine.org or call 1-508-222-5410 (this is not a toll-free number).
Rourke, Bryan, Attleboro’s La Salette Shrine shines a light on annual holiday tradition, retrieved 12/6/09, projo.com/lifebeat/content/wk-lasalette_lights_11-26-09_FCGGFU6_u26.1d36bf1.html
Most Asked Questions About Christmas at the National Shrine, retrieved 12/6/09, lasalette-shrine.org/Christmas/Festival_of_lights.html