The stately Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, standing before our St. Julie Hall Convent at Mount Notre Dame, was built by Sisters and local laymen, and on a promise. This was in 1910.
Seven years prior, the Sisters had embarked upon an ambitious building project. It would expand the Mt. Notre Dame Academy, so long a part of the community.
The addition, five stories high, entailed the lifting and placing of immense iron girders. The work was done without cranes, and very dangerous. The workmen on the scene made a promise to Our Lady: if all would come safely through the construction, they would build a shrine in her honor.
All remained safe and the promise was kept.
The stones of the shrine – our grotto – were quarried from the present grounds. Glass came from down the hill in Reading. The hard labor was done by men who were poor and who the Sisters regularly fed.
Then, when everything was complete, the Sisters, builders, and all who had helped, formed a procession from the Sisters’ chapel, all of them singing the Lourdes Hymn.
Mt. Notre Dame Academy is long gone. Those who quarried the grotto’s stones, laid the blocks, built the roof – are long gone, too. Yet the grotto remains.