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As the bells tolled Ave Maria against the sounds of jackhammers and construction equipment on the streets of the Bronx at noon, the umbrella-toting parish community showed up en masse to the courtyard of St. Lucy’s for the celebration of Mass to honor Our Lady of Lourdes on her feast day.
Nicknamed “America’s Lourdes,” St. Lucy’s has one of the largest replicas of the grotto in France where the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous back in 1839.
This unique creation was the result of an inspiration received by Monsignor Pasquale Lombardo, the first pastor of the parish, who was profoundly moved while visiting Lourdes in the mid 1930s. Upon his arrival home he asked Gino Brandolini, an Italian craftsman, to fashion the grotto that stands tall in the Bronx today as a place of prayer and healing for more than 20,000 visitors each year.
Fr. Nikolin Pergjini, the present pastor, began the tradition of celebrating Mass in the Grotto for the parish around 11 years ago on the Feasts of Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
As the rain gently fell, those in the courtyard packed to capacity honored the Blessed Mother on her feast day. The deep devotion and gratitude was apparent through the reverence with which they carried themselves. Many of the attendees are daily visitors, both day and night, to the Grotto, which has become an important part of the faith lives of this small Bronx community.
The Grotto also has water flowing from the rocks — and even though it’s NYC tap water, many claim that Our Lord has worked miracles through it, bringing healing, both spiritually and physically. The Archdiocese of New York has never been asked to investigate any of the claims. But perhaps it’s the deep devotion and prayers that bring about the “miracles,” regardless of the water itself … Either way, it’s a place that moves hearts and enriches faith, and in this day and age, that’s a miracle in itself.
Our Lady of Lourdes, please pray for us.
For more information about St. Lucy’s and the Grotto visit their website https://stlucybronx.org/