Oblate History Museum a Hidden Jewel in Lowell

Lowell, MA

Museum curator, Bro. Richard Coté, OMI, standing by one of the exhibits

By Rebecca A. Duda, Ed. D

(re-posted with permission)

Many are familiar with Lowell’s hidden jewel, St. Joseph the Worker Shrine located in the heart of downtown at 37 Lee Street. But within St. Joseph’s, lies a second jewel-the Oblate Historical Museum.

The Oblate Historical Museum was the idea of longtime Shrine Director Herve Gagnon, OMI. The museum was dedicated December 3, 1995. In the 4th floor museum, visitors can learn
about the history of the Oblates and the work they have been doing in the city since the 19th
century. Additionally, visitors can see numerous artifacts donated to the museum by Oblates who have ministered around the world.

Recently, a new Marian exhibit was added to the Oblate Historical Museum. This exhibit devoted to the Blessed Mother showcases statues from Shrines from around the globe. The exhibit was the idea of longtime museum curator, Br. Richard Cote, OMI. He thought it would be fitting to create the exhibit due to the many statues in the museum’s collections, the special significance the Blessed Mother has for the Oblates, and to highlight the feast of Mary the Mother of the Church. This feast was instituted in 20 18 by Pope Francis. It is celebrated the Monday after Pentecost. He chose this day to celebrate the feast, because Scripture records that Mary was with the twelve Apostles when they received the Holy Spirit through the tongues of fire on Pentecost.

The feast celebrates the many titles of Mary and the times Mary has chosen to appear in
various places and countries. Some of the more famous Marian apparitions people may be familiar with include Lady of Guadalupe and Lady of Beaurang.

However, in the Oblate Marian exhibition, there are statues from around the world depicting Marian apparitions; many which may be new to visitors. For example, there is a statue from Grenoble, France. The Oblates staffed a shrine in Grenoble, France called, Our Lady of the Willows. The Oblates staffed the shrine from 1834 to 1997. The shrine was the site of a Marian apparition on September 19, 1657.

Br. Richard Cote welcomes everyone to learn more about the Marian apparition at Grenoble and many more. The Oblate Historical Museum is open Saturdays from 10-2 and Sundays 8:30 to 11 :30. The museum can also be open by appointment by calling 978-459-9522. The museum is open free of charge but donations are always gratefully accepted.