Saint Bernadette Soubirous was 14 when she saw an apparition of a “lady” in a cave in Lourdes, France. She told her mom, and after some sleuthing they determined that this “lady” was none other then the Virgin Mary herself.
After the apparition was said to have been seen by others in the Lourdes area, Bernadette was declared a saint and the worldwide craze for Virgin-Mary-standing-in-a-cave began. (You may recognize the Virgin-Mary-standing-in-a-cave phenomenon today by the small iconic statues of Virgin Mary under a sort of shell or arch.) Imitation caves or “grottos” sprang up across the world and in 1937 a French religious leader came to the Bronx to build such a grotto.
Completed in 1939 at a cost of $10,000, the grotto has a large two-level catacomb section under and behind it, all filled with statues of saints. Unfortunately, it is rarely open to the public. As with the original French cave, the water from the waterfall near the Bronx grotto is said to be holy.
Know Before You Go
Accessible from the 2,5 Trains at Allerton Station