Part 2 – Holy Places: Our Lady of the Woods Chapel and the Shrine of Our Lady of Combermere


In 1972, the iconic chapel of Our Lady of the Woods was built on Catherine’s little island by the men of Madonna House using discarded logs from 100-year-old barns in the area. Both the Roman Rite Mass and the Byzantine rite Divine Liturgy are celebrated in this Russian style chapel making Madonna House a place where the Church “breathes” with both its Eastern and Western lungs, as it did during the first millennia of its history. In this chapel the Eucharist is offered daily so that, as Catherine once noted:

“We go from the Christ on the altar, from the Christ in our heart, to the Christ in our neighbour. From this centre, our life in Combermere flows.” The small island where the chapel is located is also dotted with poustinias, little cabins set apart for prayer and fasting in the Russian tradition.


The Our Lady of the Woods Chapel on the Island replaced the original Madonna House chapel located above the large dining room in the Main House. This chapel is now used through the week as a Eucharistic adoration chapel and is a place of deep prayer for many.

Let us return to the mainland via a causeway further down the island, leading back to the mainland from the island chapel. We arrive at another focal point of intense prayer at Madonna House, namely, the bronze sculpture of Our Lady of Combermere, located just a few yards from the Main House. This statue and shrine of Our Lady of Combermere was blessed by the Bishop of Pembroke on June 8, 1960. It is seldom found alone being on a well-worn path which usually features someone praying at the statue. Her arms are outstretched to embrace Madonna House, the Madawaska valley and the entire earth.