On Sunday, July 1, 2001, Mary had a strong desire to visit Our Lady’s Shrine behind St. Mary’s of the Lake Church, in Skaneateles, New York, to pray the rosary. Mary went there to pray and heard Our Lady speak to her interiorly and request that she come to the Shrine the next evening and bring two friends. Mary was given the first of what would be many visions at this beautiful but humble grotto.
Since then Mary has also had apparitions of Jesus, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, Saint Padre Pio, and Mother Theresa of Calcutta.
Our Blessed Mother began giving public messages to Mary for all of her children who gathered to pray the rosary at the shrine at Saint Mary's of the Lake Church. In addition, Our Lord began dictating messages to Mary at her home, usually late in the evening.
The grotto at St. Mary's of the Lake Church, Skaneateles is one of three built by Father Frances Nowakowski who was born in a small village near Krakow. He was the son of a stone mason and was taught the skills of a stone mason by his father.
Father Nowakowski was ordained a Carmelite priest in 1939. Shortly after his ordination Poland was occupied by the German Army. He was arrested by the Nazis along with the other priests in the Carmelite Monastery in Krakow, Poland. They were herded into dirty boxcars and shipped to the prison in Monte Lupich. He was told by the soldiers he was being sent there to die. He had been beaten and was lying in a ditch when he saw the Blessed Mother standing before him on a grass-
In 1940, Father Nowakowski was transferred to Dachau. Prisoners who entered Dachau were told there was only one exit — through the chimney of the crematorium. Nowakowski was put to work as a carpenter and machine operator. From his place of work he looked out on the road leading to the crematorium. He witnessed thousands of Jews killed at Dachau and, all in all, 2000 Catholic priests were murdered by the Nazis. He underwent bludgeoning and beatings, like his fellow prisoners. By the spring of 1945, after five years in concentration camps, Nowakowski weighed just 96 pounds, but he was still alive. By April, the American Army was advancing rapidly across Europe taking thousands of prisoners. At Dachau, the Germans, fearing any live prisoners would reveal what had happened there, stepped up their executions. Father Nowakowski was due to be executed at 7 p.m. on April 29th. The night before, in another vision, the Blessed Mother told him she would rescue him. One hour before his scheduled execution, the U.S. Army arrived at the gates of the camp. The guards were captured and the rest of the prisoners, Jews and Catholics, were freed. It was nothing short of a miracle. Throughout this horrific experience Father Nowakowski was sustained by his love for the Blessed Mother. He had vowed that if he came out of Dachau alive he would build a shrine to her in gratitude.
After After the war Father Nowakowski worked as a chaplain for displaced persons whose lives had been severely affected by the war. Eventually, on September. 8, 1950, he was assigned to the Whitefriars Carmelite Seminary in Auburn, N.Y. On a sunny morning as he was walking through the garden, he noticed the marble statue of the Blessed Mother tucked away in a dark corner of the lot. He knew this was the place to build his shrine. For three months he worked, hauling stones from area farms to build the grotto in front of the old Case Mansion occupied by the Carmelites.
Father Nowakowski struck up a friendship with the Father Marshall McMahon, pastor at the time of St. Mary's of the Lake Church, Skaneateles. Skaneateles is only five miles from Auburn. Father McMahon was so impressed by the Auburn grotto he asked Father Nowakowski if he would build a similar shrine for him behind his church. Father Nowakowski agreed and he finished the St. Mary's grotto in 1955. He built his third and last grotto to the Blessed Mother at New York Mills, near Utica, when he was stationed there.
Father Nowakowski died in October 2000. On the evening of August 23, 2001 Mary had a strong desire to go to the grotto. She was by herself praying the rosary when she had a beautiful apparition of Our Lady. During the apparition, she suddenly saw a priest. He was dressed in a long black robe overlaid with a lace shirt to his knees, the way the priests used to dress. She asked Our Blessed Mother who he was; Our Lady told her it was her beloved priest Father Marianus Nowakowski ― the priest that built her shrine. Mary saw him twice during the apparition. When she returned home, she called her spiritual director, Father Shamon, right away to tell him what she had experienced during the apparition. It was so beautiful and so special; she felt so inadequate as there were no words to describe her feelings.