Faith Still the Focus of the Annual Way of Lights

Story and Photos by Will Shaw

On November 18, 2016 the 47th Annual Way of Lights opened at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois.

After a blessing by Oblate Fathers David Uribe and Juan Gaspar, children from the Heartlink Organization were given the opportunity to “throw the switch” that powered up the two million lights decorating the wooded landscape of the Shrine.


Children, families and some four-legged friends from the petting corral eagerly await their opportunity to throw the switch launching the 47th Way of Lights.

After the switch is thrown the Shrine becomes a Christmas Wonderland of twinkling lights and light sculptures.


One and a half miles of lights adorn the Shrine


Joseph leading Mary on the donkey is one of many light sculptures along the route


A Life-sized manger scene is the focus at the grotto


Camel rides are popular at the petting corral


Hailey Norman keeps little Cohen Clark safe on a donkey ride


What’s delighting Ben Finnegan and his mom, Nicole Keeney?


It’s one of the spectacular Lego displays featuring a real electric train


This year’s Christmas Tree room features trees decorated to honor veterans.

In addition to what’s shown, there is a display of Christmas wreaths, puppet shows, performances by local choirs and much more. Entrance to the Way of Lights and many of the activities are free to all and the display runs nightly through December 31, 2016