Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes – West Terre Haute, Indiana - Atlas Obscura

West Terre Haute, Indiana

Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

A wartime promise becomes a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes. 

In 1918, the Great War (World War I) was raging in Europe, and Mother Mary Cleophas Foley, general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, made a vow.

She promised that if peace was declared before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th of that year, she would build a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes. When the nuns’ prayers were answered and an Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, Foley was true to her word.

Begun in 1918 and dedicated in 1928, the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is in a ravine on the motherhouse grounds of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, a religious congregation of Catholic nuns.

The Grotto was built to resemble the famous grotto in Lourdes, France, where the Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a young peasant girl named Bernadette. A few stones from Lourdes are embedded within the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods grotto, which features an altar, statues of the Blessed Virgin and Saint Bernadette, votive candles, and craggy stones often covered with moss and ferns.  

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