Annual Special Event
The Miracle of the Lilies

Kaskaskia, Illinois

December, 2019


Location: Church of the Immaculate Conception, 1st Street, Kaskaskia, IL

Date: Saturday, December 8, 2018

Time: 3:30 pm

Description: The Catholic church on Kaskaskia Island annually celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, for which the church is named. The feast has double meaning for the parishioners as they held a special service before the Mass commemorating Mary of Kaskaskia and the Miracle of the Lily.

The Miracle of the Lilies is oral history of the Illiniwek culture as told by John White, Chief at Ancient Lifeways Institute, Inc. Hymns sung in Native American language accompany the procession of lilies to the statue of “Mary of the Kaskaskias”, who is adorned in an elk skin robe and beads highly valued by the early Native Americans.

The story revolves around an American Indian woman from an alcohol-ridden and destitute family who was late for the processional on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the church and had nothing to offer in the processional. As she approached the church, she saw a white lily in full bloom - unheard of at that cold time of year and heard a woman's voice in her own tongue say, "I love flowers." The woman took the flower with her to the church to present to Mary. As the other parishioners saw her with it, they realized they were witnessing a miracle. The miracle came through the years to help the parishioners save the church after the flood of 1993.

According to White the church contacted him, hoping he could prove some native significance with the church which might convince the Belleville Diocese to keep it open. White helped the congregation rally around the symbol of the white lily, they were able to convince the various agencies that wanted the church closed to keep it open.

This special ceremony is conducted partly in the native Illiniwek tongue. Women from the congregation honor the American Indian woman from long ago by carrying white lilies to lay at the altar of Mary of Kaskaskia - one lily for each of the more than 150 years the church has celebrated the Immaculate Conception.


For more information call 618-366-2633

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