As we drove through Orlando last Thursday, we were stunned to see a huge "church" sign that says "Mary, Queen of the Universe." I've known for a long time that some Catholics worship Mary. However, this is the most up-front sign I have ever seen. It turns out that this church is more of a shrine than anything else.
I decided to take a look at the shrine's website (click here if you want to see it). The above photo shows a statue from the museum - I got it from the website, not from a visit to the shrine.
The following are four quotes from the site:
"Preserved free from all guilt of original sin, the Immaculate Virgin was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory ... exalted by the Lord as Queen of the Universe ..." -Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater
"A 2,000 seat Shrine Church adorned with inspirational stained-glass windows, depicting the story of God's love for man, and Mary's place in God's plan for salvation." (emphasis mine)"But equally important - the area's teeming tourist population gives us a marvelous opportunity for evangelization and witness for Catholicism." (emphasis mine)"In years that followed, the beloved Saint Desiderius was venerated as a martyr, his bone wrapped, sealed and preserved. And his feast day is still celebrated in Langres, France on the 23rd of May." (They have a relic from a bone of his forearm).
As we think about this shrine, let us first remember that if not for the grace of God we would too be worshipers of Mary. Let's also be reminded of the world's need for the gospel. The folks who worship at this shrine are lost just like Muslims, Hindus, materialists, and moralists.
I'm thankful that these Catholics are so up front about what they believe. My hope is that followers of Christ in the Orlando area will lovingly and sacrificially reach out to them with the biblical gospel.