Visitors Guide to
Our Lady of the Rivers
1553 River View Drive
Portage des Sioux, Missouri

Accessible Parking Accessible Attraction Accessible Scenic View

During 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.

The 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 Grafton, Illinois.

Visiting Our Lady of the Rivers
There is no charge to visit our Lady of the Rivers.

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.

GPS Coordinates

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.

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