Here at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery there exists a true-to-life replica of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. This quiet haven is a wonderful addition to the Shrine grounds; it is beautifully situated by a flowing river, and moderately hidden from the Castle/gift shop and parking area, providing a locale for prayer and healing. The lovely trek to Our Lady’s Grotto from the expansive piazza connected to the Shrine, imparts a sense that one is on a momentary pilgrimage. Our Lady’s words to St. Bernadette, “Would you be so kind as to come here?” draws us to experience our Lady’s tenderness here in the Deep South. While there may be a few ascetical similarities between our little grotto and the one in France, ultimately nothing could rival the real Grotto at Lourdes. For truly God’s gentle providence touched Massabielle through the physical appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her message to pray the Rosary and to do penance for poor sinners should still provoke in us a generous response to her fervent plea. We are her spiritual children that she painfully labored for at the base of her Divine Son’s Cross. A mom will always strive to prevent any possible harm great or small in her child’s life. Even if a tragedy should visit her little one, a mom knows exactly what to do to bring comfort and encouragement. Often the best form of aid is simply the presence of our mothers. If this is true in the natural order how much more in the supernatural order. What happened at Lourdes reminds us that we have a Mother who cares immensely for our needs. Nothing is too small or insignificant in her eyes. Our small reproduction here in Alabama of the oval niche in rock where supports the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes presents to our pilgrims a Woman who desires to be with us, and, who ultimately brings us to her Son, Jesus.
Although this hallowed place literally resides in our “backyard” the sisters do not hike down to the Grotto. Rather the ingenuity of one our sisters constructed tiny versions of the real thing in areas around the Monastery. This allowed us to make mini pilgrimage visits on site, making February 11th extra special.
These little replicas (as the large one “out-side”) remind us of the powerful solicitude that flows from Our Lady of Lourdes.