Aug 10, 2021

Why are two grasshoppers at the feet of the Virgin Mary on the entry plaque of this tiny chapel near Cold Spring? They represent the millions of now-extinct Rocky Mountain locusts that infested the area from 1873-77, devouring crops, trees, even tool handles and clothes…

Most everything was tried to defeat them. Smudge burning, hoping to smoke them away. Catching them in buckets had little effect. Sheet metal smeared with sticky tar dragged through the fields was barely useful.

On April 26, 1877, Minnesota Governor John S. Pillsbury declared a statewide day of prayer. That night a cold rain turned to snow…but still did not slow the pests.

In May, newly ordained Father Leo Winter encouraged people to pray… to petition the Virgin Mary to intercede.

In July, they quickly built a small wooden chapel “to honor the mother of God, to take refuge in her as the intercessor and be freed from the ravages of the grasshopper plague.” There was a statue of the Virgin and Child placed upon the altar.

The grasshoppers suddenly left.

Now, 143 years later, they have yet to return.

But wait. It gets better.

In 1894 a tornado lifted the wooden chapel into a grove of trees, destroying it—except for that statue!

In 1951 a new chapel was built, the same size, but of granite. Today, that same statue again rests above the altar. The Grasshopper Chapel is also known as The Assumption Chapel and though closed now during the pandemic, it is located in Cold Spring near St Cloud, MN.

Those grasshoppers never came back.

by Doug Rosenquist, Retired Tour Guide, Twin Cities Tours