Towards the end of our journey north, as we cruised through Maryland, we spied a sign that said, “National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes” . We turned off to check it out and found we had just half an hour before the shrine closed. We followed the sign to a car park and then took a short walk and there in front of us was a tall tower, a golden statue of Our Lady of Lourdes atop.
There were spectacular views over the surrounding countryside and hardly anyone around, save a small group of girls busy taking selfies.
The old building is part of Mount St Mary's University.
We explored our way along neat paths through shrubs and flowers still dormant and bare in early spring, the Mysteries of the Rosary depicted in mosaic, notices in English and Spanish urging silence. American Catholic churches could use a few more of those.
There was another statue of Mary, in the centre of a quiet pool. This must be wonderful in summer.
There was a tiny chapel
with a statue of St Elizabeth Ann Seton, a pioneer of Catholic education in America.
And "Mother Seton's Rock" where she once sat to teach the local kids.
And finally the grotto itself
With St Bernadette looking up at her miraculous vision of the Virgin Mary.
The replica of the Lourdes Grotto, one of the earliest in America, was built in the 1870s just 20 years after the 1858 apparitions. in the grounds of Mount St Mary’s University and seminary. Apparently it currently has 150 seminarians, which is pretty good going these days.
Here's St Francis.
And a memorial to an animal-loving mother from her children.
This statue is of Our Lady of La Vang
In oriental dress, especially venerated by the Vietnamese community, many of whom had made donations.
That seemed to be repeated in a lot of places at the Shrine. The American way, I suppose. You could even sponsor a rhododendron, “Come see the blooming rhododendrons and Awaken your spirit! Just like the blooming rhododendrons need care and nurturing, so does our spiritual life!”
But never mind, a bit of spirit Awakening doesn’t come amiss.
There were some lovely mosaics
But this statue of Mother Teresa was my favourite.
She was one of many celebrated people who've visited the shrine over the years. Glad we could join them.