In 1927, a group of nuns from the Little Sisters of the Divine Providence (Pequeña Hermanas de la Divina Providencia) set out to educate one of the poorer neighborhoods of Argentina’s port city, Mar de Plata. What began with the founding of the School of the Immaculate Conception at St. Joseph’s Oratory, expanded into a set of replicas encompassing some of the world’s holiest sites for Christians.
The most famous of these features is Lourdes’ Grotto, set in an old stone quarry near the grounds at St. Joseph’s. Surrounded by thick vegetation, the shrine began in 1937 when the land was donated by Dr. Norberto F. Peralta Ramos.
Set amongst a recessed cave of limestone, an image of the Virgin of Our Lady of Lourdes presides over a series of plaques and offerings left in thanks to the Virgin for her aid. Farther up the hill on the same grounds as the shrine, scale replicas of both Bethlehem and Jerusalem can be found.
Noted for its peaceful energy, Lourdes’ Grotto in Mar de Plata’s was designed by architect Luis Cossa to replicate as closely as possible the site of one of the world’s most famed Marian apparitions; in February of 1858 in the cave of Massabielle just outside the town of Lourdes, France, Bernadette Soubirous reported being spoken to by the Blessed Virgin Mary while gathering firewood.