Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini moved to Denver in 1902 and in 1904
founded the Queen of Heaven Orphanage, a place where young women
and girls of all ethnicities could explore their own potential. In 1910, she negotiated the purchase of the land where the shrine how stands, and from then on, children from the inner city orphanage could come out to work on their farm or just play and run through the hills, being as loud as they wanted. The orphanage didn't close until 1967, when, as I understand it, orphanages were replaced by foster care.
Mother Cabrini died in 1917 in Chicago, and was canonized by the Catholic Church in 1946, becoming the first American Saint. In 1948, the 22-foot statue of Jesus was mounted on an 11-foot base in her honor.
Now that the historical stuff has been roughly covered, I can tell you that my personal experience here was rather touching. The whole area has an aura about it, as I imagine many places do. The hike to the shrine features something like 373 concrete steps,
and, along the way, the stages of the Cross are presented, complete with places for pilgrims to stop
and prostrate. Once you get to the top, the views are spectacular. To the west, the front range. Mt. Eva
ns pokes it's head over the horizon. To the east, Denver seems to be humbly nestled against the hills, the vast plains stretching out to the horizon behind it.
It was a great hike, and if you're looking for a place to stretch your legs on a cross-country drive, this is a wonderful choice.