In September 1905, Dr. Brophy, in poor health, was sent to Rome by the Bishop. He visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation at San Valentino, Torio, Italy. At this time, he also received the privilege of a private interview with Pius X. George William Cardinal Mundelein (future Auxiliary Bishop and future Cardinal/Priest of Santa Maria del Popolo in Chicago), who was then a young priest, was present at the interview which he discussed in these words…
“Kneeling at the feet of His Holiness, Father Brophy asked him to grant an extraordinary privilege to his church, begging that Our Lady of Solace be made a shrine in perpetuity with special indulgences for all who visit it. His Holiness listened while Father Brophy spoke of the manifold amusements of Coney Island and of his little church set so near the heart of all the rush and glare. Then the Holy Father smiled: ‘If the people will turn only a moment from pleasure to prayer, let them be rewarded.’”
Thus, Dr. Brophy’s request was granted. Our Lady of Solace Church became Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace, a recognized Roman Shrine with the privilege of the Portiuncula Indulgence. It is truly ironic and unique that the island of pleasure, the playground of the world, was the very place chosen for the special remembrance of the souls in Purgatory.
For three years Dr. Brophy had been planning to build a permanent brick church, school, convent, and rectory. However, he never lived to see the fulfillment of that wish. The energetic and devoted young founder and pastor (he had been plagued with severe asthma from childhood) died of pneumonia in September of 1908 at the age of 39. A plaque honoring Dr. Brophy was moved from the original church to the lobby of the current church during its dedication Mass where it remains today. He was succeeded in 1908 by the pastor of the Church of Our Lady of Pompeii, Monsignor Alphonsus Areese.
Forty-nine years after his passing, in 1957 Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace came to national prominence on the ABC and syndicated primetime dramatic religious anthology series, Crossroads. In an episode taken from a true story and titled “Coney Island Wedding,” Dr. Brophy was immortalized in a moving portrayal by longtime film actor Dick Foran.
CONTINUE ON TO PART 3.