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Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, St. Lucy's

About this listing

Pilgrimage site at Roman Catholic Church

Place Details

Borough : Bronx
Neighborhood : Bronxdale
Open Space, What New Yorkers Find Beautiful, Place of Worship

Place Matters Profile

Stories regarding the renowned healing waters of Lourdes, France have been around for centuries, but for thousands of people each year Lourdes is just a subway ride away. Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto at the corner of Bronxwood and Mace Avenues in the Bronx was built in 1939 as a replica of the French shrine and has been a source of inspiration and solace for the faithful during New York City’s toughest times. From prayers of safety for the armed forces in World War II to an interfaith sanctuary of worship during the events of September 11th, 2001, the grotto has played an important role in the spiritual lives of thousands of New Yorkers, as well as becoming a site of pilgrimage for believers in the grotto’s healing waters.

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, or “Lourdes of America” as it is commonly referred to, is part of St. Lucy’s Church...

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Sources

"Miracle in the Bronx." Time, 24 July, 1939. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,771685,00.html.

Sedensky, Matt. "Neighborhood Report: Bronxdale; Solace, Pilgrims, and Maybe a Cure, At a Grotto in the Bronx." New York Times, 28 Oct., 2001, Late ed., sec. 14: 6.

Weil, Jennifer. "Seeking Miracles in City Water." Columbia News Service. 03 Apr. 2002, www.jrn.columbia.edu/studentwork/cns/2002-04-03/322/asp.

Interview by B. Garrone with gift shop employee, 2 Feb., 2007.

[Posted, February 2007]

On The Web

St. Lucy's website
Forgotten NY Profile

Nominations

Susan Lally

This is a Catholic church with a most unusual under and overground grotto. It is architecturally unique--more Sicilian than anything else, but Hispanic worshippers used to make weekend pilgrimages to the site to get holy water from the waterfall throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

There is a waterfall/grotto immediately adjacent to the church that is open a lot of the time but the massive catacomb portion which has a ground level as well as an upper level is rarely open to the public. It is one spectacular experience to walk through the ground level cave-like catcombs and view the larger-than-life-sized statues of the saints. I have not been inside the spot in more than 30 years because it seems to have been sealed up/gated/locked in the 1970s or 1980s for security purposes. It is extremely unique, the only one of its kind that I have ever seen. The church is also interesting as it is below ground with an elaborately tiled ceiling.

The place matters because the grotto is totally from another era and another continent (Italy). The resemblance to catacombs makes it totally unique.(December 2006)



Vanessa Martinez

When I was a little girl growing up in the Bronxdale neighborhood of the Bronx,in the 1970's, the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, St. Lucy's Church, was perhaps our most frequent family outing. Unbeknownst to me, my family had a very tight budget that did not allow for daytrips that required food, ticktets and transportation. Many an Easter Sunday, Mother's Day, and Birthdays were spent on the park benches in front of the grotto, feeling the cool splash of the miraculous holy water that trickled down its rocks. We talked about special memories, we shared Mr. Softee Ice Cream, we took pennies out of our little purses to toss into the grotto, we prayed for grandma and grandpa, and we took many of our family fotos here. We shared our tiny piece of paradise with out of town guests, all along knowing that this was "our" place, from our neighborhood. Family and friends who came to visit us in the Bronx, fearful of entering the dangerous "ghetto" soon were in awe before our Lady of Lourdes, her gardens and her fountain. Tears come to my eyes to remember that little miracle that we relived many times.

We believed in the apperance of our Lady of Lourdes, here at this little grotto off the sidewalks of the Bronx. The Grotto is testimony to the first Italian-American residents of the Bronxdale neighborhood of the Bronx. The place is a vital piece of living history both to its community and to the Roman Catholic Faith.

The physical details of this place provide a tiny oasis in the midst of a rapidly changing urban inner city. I would be saddened to know that it's land was sold for commercial development, for a parking lot or even for a church expansion. The Grotto is a beautiful garden that povides comfort and solace. (February 2007)



Jen Murdock

To see more Lady of Lourdes type interiors in local NYC churches:

1. The basement of Our Lady of Lourdes in Hamilton Heights has a great faux grotto:

Our Lady of Lourdes Church

472 West 142nd Street

New York, NY 10031

212-862-4380 phone



2. The Church of Notre Dame in Morningside Heights at Morningside Drive and 114th also has a grotto (fabulous!)

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/earl/ccm/notredame.html (for info)

(March 2007)



AnnMarie Lynch

It is a stone-cut, dressed and hand-made grotto at St. Lucy's Church in the Bronx. The stones for the grotto were hand-cut by an Italian craftsman named Gino Brandolini. He had immigrated from Italy and his family lived for three generations in the Bronx. It is an excellent representation of the actual grotto in Lourdes, France, which I have visited. (May 2012)


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