Parishioners at the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in downtown Spokane have been faithfully raising money for years to build a shrine to St. Peregrine, the patron saint of people with cancer. Though there’s still money left to raise, organizers hope the shrine will be complete in time for St. Peregrine’s feast day on May 1.
KellieMarie Plumlee, a member of the church’s Altar Society group, suggested the cathedral house the shrine. There are only two other shrines to St. Peregrine in the United States, one in Portland and one in Chicago. Plumlee said she would often compile a list of people in the parish who were battling cancer and visit the shrine in Portland to pray for them.
But she felt like she needed to do more. She also thought there should be a shrine to St. Peregrine in Spokane, something that could be visited by local residents and visitors from throughout the Northwest and the entire country. “I feel like I’m supposed to do this,” she said. “It’s not just about us. It needs to be for anyone who needs hope.”
After receiving permission to move ahead with the project, Plumlee has been sewing everything from potholders to quilts to sell in order to raise money. “I’m a quilter, but now I’m making everything on the planet,” she said.
Her favorite things to make are rosary bags and baby bonnets. Other women in the parish make things like pillowcases and dish towels to sell. The sales are held after every Mass on the second Sunday of the month, plus after the Saturday Mass the night before. Plumlee said another church member, Jayne Kabasak, has been instrumental in helping organize everything.
The cathedral created a life-sized tapestry of what the shrine will look like when it’s complete and hung it on the wall at the future location of the shrine, which is just to the right of the main altar in the front of the church.
“We’ve used the image as a push for people to get enthusiastic about it,” said the Rev. Darrin Connall, cathedral rector and vicar general of the Diocese of Spokane.
According to the Franciscan Mission Associates, Peregrine Laziosi was born in Forli, Italy, in 1265. He was a rebel, fighting against Pope Martin IV. But a remorseful Peregine soon devoted himself to the pope and became a Servite priest, dedicated to atoning for his past.
In his later years he developed cancer in his leg. The night before a surgeon was to amputate his leg, Peregrine dreamt that Jesus touched him and healed him. When he awoke there was no sign of the cancer.
The key component of the shrine will be a large painting by local artist Shayne Swenson, who is known for his Orthodox icons and work as a tattoo artist. The painting shows Peregrine sitting on the ground, his leg bandaged and bleeding. Above him is Jesus on the cross, one hand reaching down toward Peregrine.
The painting will be housed in a marble alcove created by Joey Marcello of Mario & Son, a Liberty Lake stonework company. Connall said he’s been impressed by the work of Marcello, who also made the cathedral’s marble altar. “He’s is a master craftsman,” he said. “He’s a hidden gem.”
The construction of the marble alcove has been slowed because the marble shipped in from Italy was delayed as part of the ongoing supply chain issues, Connall said.
Connall has been supportive of the effort to build the shrine, particularly since he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015. He received treatment and is in remission. “A lot of people get cancer,” he said. “We’ve all known someone who has cancer. We have wonderful cancer care here. We would like to support that physical, biological care with some spiritual care.”
The entire $100,000 cost of the shrine project is being raised by the Altar Society and will not impact the cathedral’s mission to serve the poor and the homeless, Connall said. The congregation has raised nearly half of the amount needed so far.
Plumlee is dedicated to continuing her fundraising efforts. She hopes the shrine will be a source of hope and solace for those who need it. “It’s not only for the person who is suffering, it’s the caregiver and the family,” she said. “I just think if we have this, people will come.”
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