Today's image is titled hilltop chapel and was photographed by Ryan Wisniewski.
One hundred and fifty one years ago, the French doctor Pierre-Fidèle Bretonneau coined the name of diphtheria, an highly-communicable upper respiratory disease that was then sweeping around the world in one of its periodic outbreaks. This epidemic touched Dane County too, and was the impetus for the construction of one of the region's oldest religious structures. St. Mary of the Oaks Chapel was built in the town of Berry in 1857 by the John Endres and his son Peter as a thanksgiving for protection from the scourge.
St. Mary of the Oaks is now a centerpiece of Indian Lake Park, a four-seasons escape located off State Highway 19 to the west of Waunakee. The subject of a dispute between the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Dane County back in the mid-90s, the chapel is a tiny structure centered on a shrine to the Virgin Mary. It's located on a bluff near the center of the park, one of the largest in the county and replete with hiking and ski trails. The park was profiled last week in the Wisconsin State Journal, and more images of the chapel its surroundings can be viewed in a photo essay by Ann Althouse.
This is the latest entry of Madison Snaps: photos of Madison-area events and locations. The send a message. There is no compensation for Madison Snaps photos, which are © to the respective photographers.