On Dec. 4, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines dedicated the new entrance that will great the over 2 million people who visit the shrine each year. When the shrine decided to build a new entrance it was with the pilgrims in mind, said Father Esequiel Sanchez, shrine rector, in his bilingual remarks during the blessing. “The pilgrims who will come next weekend with their heart in their hand, they’ll come with their pain, with their fear, with their joy, with their confusion and with their enlightenment. They do not come seeking movie stars. They don’t come looking for a concert. They do not come seeking anything else except seeking help and the love of our Blessed Mother,” he said. It is in that spirit that the design of the new entrance was created. It was inspired by various cultures with a spirit of triumph, he said. The shrine launched a campaign last year “Raising the Doors of the Guadalupano Heart!” to raise $800,000 for the entrance, which was designed in a colonial style with archways for pilgrims to walk through. The style symbolizes the mixing of cultures that came together “under the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” Sanchez said. Construction of the new entrance reflects the growth and increased popularity of the shrine in the lives of the faithful and is part of a plan to grow the shrine. Cardinal Francis George formally dedicated the shrine in 2013 on the grounds of Maryville Academy. At that time, he also split what is a little more than 120 acres in half between the two ministries. In recent years, the shrine has undergone other construction projects. It renovated the plaza in front of the outdoor image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and in 2018, it remodeled the former Maryville Academy gym into the St. Joseph Chapel, where Masses are celebrated daily. Shrine leaders hope to build a refectory or restaurant in the future to both feed pilgrims and provide a revenue stream.