Villa Maria lights up holiday seasonOLD FRONTENAC — As the nights get darker and Christmas looms, the Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center has found a way to both celebrate and brighten the holiday season.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
OLD FRONTENAC — As the nights get darker and Christmas looms, the Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center has found a way to both celebrate and brighten the holiday season.
Beginning Dec. 8, more than 1,000 luminaries will light the long driveway that leads to the villa — in addition to the front of the historic building itself.
“December is the darkest month,” villa Executive Director Sarah McClellan said. “Light is certainly a holy metaphor for the light of God.”
This is the first Christmas at the villa for McClellan, who took over as director last January. The idea for the luminaries came to her from a tradition she’d seen in Santa Fe and in other parts of New Mexico.
“Most of the Southwest is lit by luminaries at Christmas,” McClellan said, adding that the villa was a perfect candidate for the same treatment.
“It’s such a gorgeous building,” she said. “It’s so beautiful to drive up. It just begs for something like that.”
The luminaries will be officially lighted for the first time during the Festival of Lights, 7 p.m. Dec. 8. The evening will also include a candlelit concert by a three-piece ensemble and a dessert social.
On display in the chapel — and also lit by candlelight — will be more than 100 Nativities. This is the second year the villa will showcase the tiny scenes, which were donated by a friend of the previous executive director.
“Many of them are from this woman’s travels from Central America and Mexico,” McClellan said. “We have them on both sides of the wall and lining the chapel.”
Tickets for the event are $25 each, available at the villa or Rather Bee Quilting in Lake City.
Both the Nativities and the luminaries will also be on display Sunday Dec. 9, during the villa’s annual open house, which is free and open to the public.
The event will feature the annual bake sale and 10 tables of local craft vendors.
McClellan said both the open house and the Festival of Lights is the villa’s way of giving back.
“It’s the villa's gift to the community,” she said. “It’s something we want to do for people in the area.”
If you go…
What: Festival of Lights
When: 7 p.m. Saturday Dec. 8
Where: Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center, 29847 County 2 Blvd., Frontenac
Cost: $25, tickets available at Villa Maria and Rather Bee Quilting, Lake City
More information: 651-345-4582, email@example.com
What: Annual open house
When: 1-5 p.m. Sunday Dec. 9
Where: Villa Maria