The following excerpt comes from: http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/csm/massmound.html
This region was in very early times, as we read in Parkman’s history and in the records of the Jesuits, frequently visited by Jesuit missionaries, and missions abounded along the banks of the Mississippi. Davenport was but an Indian encampment, Blackhawk’s watch tower guarded the opposite shores of the Mississippi, and Colonel Davenport’s trading station was on Rock Island, now the site of one of the great United States Arsenals. Antoine Le Claire traded with the Indians farther to the north near where the famous Buffalo Bill was born.
One day, after the dread of devastating storms had long lain heavy on the dwellers of this beautiful country, one of the missionaries summoned all Indians and Whites, Christians and non-Christians–all who could be reached, to a meeting. He set up an altar on a hill where St. Katharine’s now stands, and celebrated Mass daily for a week. Day by day the Indians came and went. The Christians sang litanies and prayed for blessing and protection. On the last day the holy priest lifted the Host and blessed all the country that lay before him, and prayed to God that henceforth it might be preserved from storms and cyclones. Now St. Katharine’s fair gardens grow and prosper about this spot.
The Sisters of St. Mary heard this tale, and after much research have attested the fact by pioneer records and the Jesuit records in St. Louis. One of the manuscripts reads, “On the mound of the old Davis house (now St. Katharine’s School), southwest side, where French priest had a black cross made of walnut wood, carved by hand, a crucifix, as great storms were so dangerous. Very holy clergy knelt in prayer, and made offerings to God for safety.”
It is fairly well established that the “French priest” must have been either Father Mazzuchelli, a Dominican priest who in 1838 erected the Church of St. Anthony (now standing in Davenport) or Father Van Quickenborne, a Jesuit. Tradition points, however, to Father Van Quickenborne, for the narrators of the tale usually relate that the officiating priest was a Jesuit who had recently come from New Orleans; and the Jesuit archives in St. Louis confirm this tradition. The Sisters have found that the story as told in widely differing groups of the older people of Davenport varies in its details.
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Last January 2008 I ran into Dr. Joe Seng at the JC Bridal Expo at his booth for the Renwick Mansion. Immediately there was a tug on my heart to go see. It took 9 months before I finally did go and see. Instant love. I grabbed a couple of models (read that to mean unsuspecting friends) and we had ourselves a grand time photographing inside and out.
Every visit I found myself walking on the grounds out to the East of the House. There was such a prevading feeling of peace there. You just want to plop down in the shade on the blanket of grass and let yourself free. I really didn’t have an explanation as to why until I found the story of the Mass Mound. I had heard it several years ago, but it never penetrated it was The Renwick Mansion that was the site of the Mass Mound.
I placed both of the young ladies here. It is an awkward lighting spot without external lighting. There were much more desirable spots, but I kept working here. I couldn’t explain it. I didn’t show these images here much because they are not great. Still over and over I was drawn to work in this spot.
I do not believe in conincidences and accidental happenings. Tomorrow more to this story. Stay tuned!
PS If I wanted to do an outside wedding or reception I’d do it here on this land and this spot. It has been blessed, anointed, decreed and declared over. It had both a hickory cross and later an altar erected on the site. Please remember this is private property and you need permission to walk on the land.