The new owners of the former St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church at 79 E. Lee St. in Warrenton will return the property to religious use.
The property was sold on Sept. 16 to Guadalupe, Inc., a not-for-profit entity whose president is Dr. Francis D. Andres, a psychiatrist practicing in Warrenton.
Andres said the former church building will be converted to a pilgrimage shrine as a place of devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom Catholics revere as the patroness of the Americas. The building will also serve as a divine mercy shrine. In 1931, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, had visions of Jesus, who directed her to become his instrument of divine mercy.
The shrine will also support pro-life efforts and care for the needy. The rectory space on the site will be used for offices.
The former church building will also have an area set aside to commemorate Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War, Andres said. The building dates to 1860, a year before the war started. During the conflict, the building was used as a hospital following the battles in Manassas in 1861 and 1862.
“I am very grateful to all who helped to bring this project to this point, and I look forward to its flowing into a pilgrimage shrine in honor of Our Lady and for the greater realization of Divine Mercy throughout the world,” Andres said.
Andres said a number of lay Catholic organizations and others helped make the purchase possible.
The property was purchased for $795,000 from Barry Dixon, who used it as an interior design studio and storage space. The property was listed at $900,000 by Will Thomas of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. The property includes the church, a meeting hall and rectory.
The site was under contract earlier this year to a family that had plans to open a restaurant there. Last year, a different party expressed interest in buying the property for a restaurant, wellness center and boutique hotel.
The St. John congregation moved during the 1960s to a new church built on Winchester Street.