Pray the “Rollery”

For the first installment of Cody’s Road Trips, I decided to visit the closest place I thought was cool to me that I had never been to before. Here’s a church and sports connection out in the country west of Hooppole, lllinois.

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series of a drive I took on March 21, 2023

Part 1Part 2Part 3
Pray the “Rollery”
(you are here)
“Classic” Route 78: Hooppole to Annawan
Henry-Bureau Moraine

HOOPPOLE – In a town that has “basketball” written all over it, there’s another, less common sport that is played often in it and nearby.

That sport is rolle bolle, an import of Belgium that’s kind of like bowling and kind of like bocce ball. In rolle bolle, two individuals roll wheel-like “balls” toward a stake, and points are tallied up for those closest to the stake. Linked HERE is a regional website that explains the sport in more detail.

Belgian immigrants who came to the Hooppole and Annawan areas brought their sport with them, and activity has picked up so much over the years that Annawan, a few miles south of Hooppole, is home to the annual Rolle Bolle World Tournament.

When members of St. Mary of the Fields Catholic Church sought to build a Rosary shrine next door to their building, they had the popular local sport in mind. In 1992, the Rolle Bolle Rosary was completed with a walkway in the shape of a heart and rolle bolles linked on a chain along the walkways.

The church and shrine are far off the beaten path. Take the main road west out of Hooppole for a couple of miles, and blue signs will lead travels on a narrow and shady country road to the place. Many less-traveled country roads in Henry County are narrow; there’s not much maintenance to be made when few vehicles travel on it (that’s also why European stone roads last thousands of years).

Since I took my trip to the rosary in late winter, the trees had yet to bloom and there wasn’t much color – but there will be when the weather gets nicer. Also on the grounds are the Grotto of Our Lady of Fatima, surrounded by Mary’s Garden, and a memorial stone for the unborn.

The church itself was built in 1883 as St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Much of the interior displays are as old as the church itself. The outdoor display has been recognized as a Diocesan Shrine of Mary by the Peoria Diocese, and has attracted many people from throughout the world to come and “pray, pray, pray the Rosary,” as a sign outside suggests.

If you’re looking for an interesting place to pray the Rosary, and are interested in an off-the-beaten path trek, this place is one to visit when the weather is nice.

To visit:

St. Mary of the Fields and Rolle Bolle Rosary
24772 St. Mary’s Rd. Prophetstown, Illinois (Prophetstown is the mailing address, it is closer to Hooppole)
Phone: 309-935-6911
Holy hour and rosary procession is at 2 p.m. on the first Sunday from May to October.

Go to to learn more about the place.

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