Places that Matter

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Grotto

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Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Overview, Martha Cooper
Sign, Martha Cooper
Close up with flowers, Martha Cooper
The city's most elaborate yard shrine
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The city's most elaborate yard shrine originates from 1936 when members of the Society of Mount Carmel volunteered their labor over several decades to construct the stone-studded grotto. The main shrine is 20' high x 50' long, with smaller structures and a central fountain scattered in close proximity to cement massing around the site.

Nestled in the Rosebank neighborhood, the main chapel of fieldstone, flanked by smaller niches, is covered in cobblestones, sand, shells, and everything else imaginable--from bits of glass to marbles to bicycle reflectors. The hand-crafted shrine is most prominent during the annual July feast to honor the Madonna. But it also is a force in daily life, both as a contributor to the cultural cohesion of the immediate area and as a pilgrimage site for Catholics citywide who light candles in the grotto and place prayers in its crevices. Along with other yard shrines built by Italian Americans around the city, the Grotto helps to convert mundane private property into sacred space for use by its community, and contributes to a sense of place in a vast city.