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St. Nazianz Centennial Committee / St. Nazianz, 1854-1954
([1954])

[History],   pp. [16]-80 PDF (58.0 MB)


Page 41


the same time individual contributions listed in the parish
books paid the total expense of $280.48 for St. Joseph's
altar. The parish record book also lists the offerings for
the purchase of stoves for the church at a cost of $107.75.
Also ennumerated are contributions for the rectory which
was erected in 1876. In 1884 another major building pro-
ject was undertaken, and the St. Gregory's School was
erected in that year.
  The year 1889 was a year of great loss to the colony.
For at that time Father Oschwald's right-hand man in
the founding and in the early development of the colony
died. Anton Stoll was one of the six men who had first
come to the wilderness purchased by the Oschwald As-
sociation. From the very beginning he had kept a faithful
chronicle of all that occured in the village and contin-
ued it until two years before his death, 1887. And during
all those years this well educated man was the general
manager and the overseer of the community in all tem-
poral, financial affairs. The long, legal struggle after the
death of Father Oschwald fell for the most part upon his
aged shoulders and faithful to the end, he made innum-
erable trips to Manitowoc which the case demanded and
saw the hearings through to the successful conclusion.
  According to the tax assessments and payment at the
time of the Anton Stoll's death the total valuation of
the land holdings of the Oschwald Association in the
Town of Liberty and in the Town of Eaton amounted to
$33,890.00; personal property valuation totaled $8,000.00
and together a total valuation of $41,890.00. In 1890 the
Association had left only about 1500 acres of the 3840
acres they had orginally purchased. Many of the best
parcels of land had been sold to individuals and families
after the death of Father Oschwald.
A BOUT this time another structure to the honor of
God and good of souls was becoming known far
and wide around St. Nazianz. This was the Lax Chapel
which even today calls many people for the annual cele-
bration on July 4.
  The actual history of the founding of this chapel goes
back many centuries, even to the fourteenth century in
Bohemia. At that time in the little town of Loucim on
the Bavarian border the simple peasants centered their
devotion around a shrine dedicated to the Mother of
God. There they prayed before a special image of Mary.
Then heresy came to Bohemia under the leadership of
John Huss. Abetted by the leaders of the State the here-
tics began a persecution of the lower classes. It carried
even to the small village of Loucim. Knowing that they
were unable to withstand overwhelming numbers, the
villagers moved the statue from the shrine, carried it to a
sheltered spot in the nearby forest, and concealed it in a
Lax chapel, southwest of the village, after it was
enlarged in 1910. The inset pictures the interior of
the chapel with the famous statue above the altar.
                                                      41
niche hewn in a large linden tree. However, one of the
Hussites, a man named Etibor Krcma saw where the
Catholics had hidden their statue, stole secretly from the
place and removed it. In an effort to destroy the image
he struck it on the head with his sword. But the unex-
pected happened, for immediately blood flowed in a great
stream from the gash which the sword had cut in the face
of the statue. Thoroughly frightened he took the statue
to a nearby pond and there attempted to sink it, but al-
ways the statue would float again to the surface, its face
streaming with blood. Desperately he fled from the place
but to his amazement, on passing the place where the
statue had been hidden, he saw it standing there once
again, its face still covered with blood. Overcome with
sorrow and remorse, the vandal dropped to his knees, beg-
ging heaven's forgiveness for his sacrilegious action. A
changed man, he returned to the village and spent the
remainder of his life as sacristan of the parish church,
where he could venerate constantly the Mother of God.
  When the Hussite persecution had ended, as all per-
secutions must, the people of Loucim and the surround-
ing country built a large church on the spot where the
great manifestation had taken place. In a short time the
fame of the church and of the image of Mary that stood
enshrined there spread into the far corners of Bohemia.
The glorious shrine was subsequently called by the name
it has retained even to modern times, Neukirchen-Heil-
genblut, the New Church of the Sacred Blood.
  One devotee of the Mother of God and her famous
shrine at Loucim in the middle of the nineteenth century
was a young man named Lax. After immigrating to Amer-
ica, Lax with his young family settled down outside the
village of St. Nazianz. In the early 1870's he fell gravely
ill. Convinced that his life was drawing to a close, he re-
called the goodness of the patroness of the ancient Bo-
hemian shrine. Imploring her intercession, he vowed to
erect a small chapel in her honor if he should be restored
again to health and be spared for the sake of his family.
Immediately his condition began to improve, and to the
surprise of his family and friends he quickly and wholly
recovered from his sickness. Not forgetting his promise,
he immediately set to work to construct a tiny chapel.
When the small structure was completed in 1875, he
placed in it a replica of the image in the famous shrine
in his native Bohemian town. Rapidly the shrine grew
famous in the wilderness of Wisconsin, and Mass was
offered frequently, especially on the Feast of the Visita-
tion, July 2, when pilgrims came, not only from the vil-
lage of St. Nazianz but also from the surrounding coun-
try, to join with the Lax family in honoring the Virgin.
As the nineteenth century drew to a close the Lax chapel
was well established as a well known shrine in this dis-
trict of Wisconsin.
  But as the century drew to its close matters were not
going too well for the Association. Its ranks depleted
by the death of 105 members during the past quarter
of a century since the death of Father Oschwald, the
Association faced extinction because no new members


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