Attleboro Springs

Keeping faithful watch, this revered image of Mary has stood at the entrance to La Salette Seminary (formerly Attleboro Springs Sanatorium), welcoming generations of brothers, priests, seminarians, pilgrims and visitors, inviting all still to submit to Christ's gentle sway as it does today.

Solomon's Sanatorium

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The Solomon's Sanatorium, which became
the La Salette Seminary, Attleboro, MA.
James Solomon was gathering herbs and roots in the woods on this property for herbal remedies that he concocted and peddled. Although he was known as Dr. Solomon, he was not a medical doctor, but his dream was to build a great sanatorium on this spot where people would come to be healed of cancer. In 1894 an engineer surveyed the grounds and by March of 1901 the walls stood in place to receive the giant roof, and a local businessman pledged the necessary financial backing to complete the project. The sanatorium cost $400,000 to build!

On April 25, 1903 Solomon's "Sanatorium was dedicated and the statistics in the day" program included this information: bricks: 475,709; windows: 309; panes of glass: 3,254; fireplaces: 21; rooms: 200; electric wire: 27 miles.

The order of the day included a band concert on the Attleboro Common followed by a parade from the center of town. A contemporary account describes the event: With the coming of the dark, Dr. Solomon's dream sprang to life in a great blaze of electrical splendor; 1,800 electric lights outlined the exterior of the building, while an immense searchlight mounted on the roof threw its slender, graceful finger of light over four miles.

Unfortunately, in the years to follow lack of funds resulting in changes of ownership was to form a pattern. In 1919, when the Methodist Church purchased it, the name was changed to Attleboro Springs, due to the natural spring on the grounds and it was under that name that it shut down in 1938.

About La Salette Seminary

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Seminarians walking up to the
La Salette Seminary in wintertime
In 1942 the La Salette Missionaries bought the property as a major seminary and in 1952 the construction of the Shrine was announced. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1953, marked the official opening of the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, coinciding with the beginning of the Marian Year promulgated by Pope Pius XII. Highlights of that day included a fireworks display, an outdoor nativity scene, and the presence of 5,000 people.

Since then the outdoor nativity display has grown to the present scope of the annual Christmas Festival of Lights, which features 300,000 dazzling lights and welcomes over 500,000 pilgrims.

That Tragic Night

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The fire of Nov. 5, 1999, which killed one
person and destroyed the entire building
(photo credit: The Attleboro Sun Chronicle)
On the fateful night of November 4-5, 1999, it witnessed the raging blaze that made of their cherished home a burnt offering of thanksgiving for the haven and hospitality it had, for over a century, unstintingly given them, and rekindled in the hearts of Our Lady's Missionaries unflinching dedication to the service of God’s people.

Tragically, the conflagration also consumed the life of Carmelite Father Paul O'Brien of the United Kingdom on sabbatical here. May the Lord grant his spirit unending peace and refreshment.

Our Lady of La Salette Reconciler of Sinners, Pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to you.

The following year, the new Shrine Church of Our Lady of La Salette was dedicated on September 19, 2000.

Growth of the Shrine and Seminary

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The La Salette Facsimile in October of
1947, originally constructed on the
front lawn of the seminary building.
Constant strands in the history of this Attleboro property do seem to be: dream and struggle, hope and healing, dark night of the search and bright lights pointing the way.

November 15, 2003 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops notified the shrine that it had been granted the new designation of National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette.

Notes: Historical material on La Salette of Attleboro compiled by Rev. Donald Paradis, M.S.; this webpage was originally submitted on June 1, 2012, by Bryan Simmons of Attleboro, MA. Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this webpage.

 

 

 

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(l to r) Overview of La Salette Seminary Marker and closeup, erected in 2005; photos: Bryan Simmons of Attleboro, MA