Lourdes Grotto Edition
Short of a schedule conflict, my husband attends an annual Catholic men’s retreat at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Families are welcome to join the retreatants for Mass on Sunday morning at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Situated on a wooden hillside above the university and seminary campus, the Lourdes Grotto includes paved paths lined by depictions of the mysteries of the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, and numerous statues. With its wildflowers, natural spring, towering trees, and native Mountain laurel, it’s one of my favorite places.
The Giant Mary Statue
This towering statue of Our Lady, visible from Route 15 once you cross the border from Pennsylvania into Maryland, is a sight to behold. She towers over the treetops with outstretched arms, beckoning to passersby below.
Our Lady of Lavang
My knowledge of this Marian apparition is limited to what I read on the accompanying sign: “In 1798, under the reign of King Canh-Thinh, during the great religious persecution, thousands of Vietnamese Catholics took refuge in the deep forest of Lavang, near Quang-Tri, Central Viet-Nam, where they suffered hunger, sickness and bitter cold. One night, as they assembled for prayer, the were visited by an apparition of a beautiful Lady in a long cape, holding a child and with two angels on Her sides. She presented Herself as MARY, the Mother of God, encouraged and consoled them. As a special sign of her loving care, She advised them to use the leaves of the surrounding trees to treat their ailments. Later in one of Her many apparitions, She said: ‘I have accepted your prayers. From now on, whoever comes here to pray to Me, I will answer and grant all of their pleas.'”
Our Mother of Sorrows
As a member of parish under the patronage of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Michelangelo’s Pieta is among my favorite depictions of Jesus and Mary. Despite the fact this statue sits in a wooded area, the natural morning light illumined it perfectly.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
With the maiden name Perpetua, this icon holds a special place in my heart. The accompanying prayer is also among my favorites.
Grotto Spring Water
Spring water runs from the hillside and feeds the pool beneath the Grotto. Visitors are welcome to drink or take Grotto spring water from the running spigot and many do. The Grotto water is blessed, and many graces and favors are attributed to drinking it.
Mother Seton’s Rock
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is among my favorite saints, in part because I was taught by sisters from the religious order she founded and because she lived “nearby.”
The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is also located in Emmitsburg and is worth visiting, especially since next month will mark forty years since St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization.
The placard below reads: “Mother Seton’s Rock 1809-1821. Here on Sunday afternoons Mother Seton ‘seated on a rock known as hers,’ taught Christian doctrine to the children of the mountain parish.'”
The Lourdes Grotto
The actual grotto is modeled after the grotto in Lourdes, France where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette. (I highly recommend the classic The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel. I’ve yet to see the award-winning 1943 adaptation starring Jennifer Jones.)
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