Father Francis deSales Brunner, the founder of the Sorrowful Mother Shrine, came to the United States as a special missionary pilgrim to minister to the German Catholic farmers who settled in north central and northwest Ohio. The first mission house was established at St. Alphonsus in Peru, Ohio, which was just a half mile southeast of the sisters’ convennt at Thompson County. A few miles from the mission there was a wooded area that reminded Fr. Brunner of the Maria Steig Shrine that he often visited in his homeland.
Before returning to Europe, Fr. Francis deSales Brunner purchased twenty five acres of the wooded land. Father now had the land, encouragement, and the money for a Shrine to Mary in America. Something was missing – the heart of the new Shrine. While back in Europe, he received an old wooden image of the Mother of God holding the Lord on her lap. This image of the sorrowful Mother lead him to what represents the Shrine today; the Sorrowful Mother Shrine. One of Father Brunner’s priests and seven sisters of the Precious Blood brought this statue of the Virgin safety to Ohio.
In the heart of this German settled territory, German speaking pioneers learned to take their troubles to the Mother of Sorrows. Today, 170 years later, the Shrine is a place where God and nature come together. It is a place of quiet where visitors come to find peace and refreshment of mind, body and spirit.