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The Hermit of Holy Hill

Francois Soubrio, a native of France, was known as the hermit of Holy Hill. A local farmer discovered his presence sometime between 1862 and 1864.' After a time of mutual suspicion between Soubrio and the area farmers, a friendship developed as the result of growing openness between them. The farmers then began to assist Soubrio by giving him food and other necessities. Eventually they banded together to build a small cabin for him.

There are two accounts about Soubrio's mysterious presence at Holy Hill. In the older account (1889), a narrative written about Holy Hill by W. A. Armstrong, the hermit is said to have come in penance for the murder of someone he loved. Armstrong's narrative also says that the hermit was miraculously healed of a partial paralysis after spending the night in prayer on the hill's summit. In J. M. LeCount's history of Holy Hill he is described as a religious eccentric. Although the accounts differ in their opinion of Soubrio's personality, both accounts agree that he was a man of great inner pain who sought comfort in God.

Before coming to Holy Hill, Soubrio traveled extensively. His travels eventually brought him to Quebec, Canada, where he worked as an assistant to a retired professor. While working in the professor's library, Soubrio found an old French diary and a parchment map (dated 1676). The map showed the Wisconsin - Lake Michigan area and the route used to reach a very high cone-shaped hill in southeastern Wisconsin. Soubrio's attention was drawn to the entry in which the author described his journey to the hill's summit where he erected a stone altar, raised a cross (margin notes on the map indicated a cross) and dedicated the place in the name of Mary as holy ground forever. Studying these documents created a deep longing within Soubrio to come to the holy site. Many assumed the documents belonged to Fr. Jacques Marquette.

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