Carfin Grotto was already hurting financially due to the world pandemic preventing pilgrimages.
Carfin Grotto, Scotland’s National Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, joins the list of hundreds of Catholic churches that have been attacked in recent months. On October 17, caretakers of the shrine reported damage caused by a fire in the middle of the night. The destruction comes as the shrine is experiencing financial difficulties due to the world pandemic.
According to Glasgow Times, the fire was set by piling items together and igniting them. A spokesperson for the shrine described the blaze as “quite fierce,” causing damage to the grounds and a memorial wall. Several of the plaques on the memorial wall now bear melted letters, while some nearby iron candlesticks were completely melted.
The spokesman, John Mallon, noted that the way the fire was built suggests arson. The Daily Record quotes Mallon:
“We know it was deliberate because items were added in a pile and set on fire within the Lourdes memorial cave.” Mallon added, “It is worrying for Catholics that so many acts of vandalism and destruction are reported up and down the country. We hope it is addressed at a national level.”
Damages and funding
Mallon went on to explain that the area in which the fire was started does not have a security camera angled towards it. He noted that the attack came at a particularly bad time for the grotto, as the pilgrimage site has long been empty due to the pandemic. To help pay for the damages Carfin Grotto has launched a crowdfunding campaign in which they hope to raise 1,000 euros for repairs.
Carfin Grotto is a historic church for Catholics of Scotland, who make up about 16% of the country’s population. The shrine was hand-built by the congregation in 1922. Since then, the site has been open daily as a place of prayer and pilgrimage. The National Shrine of Scotland is preparing to celebrate its centennial anniversary in 2022.
This is just the latest incident in a growing trend of attacks on Catholic churches in Scotland, as well as the world over. CNA documents a long list of incidents, including a priest attacked by a man with a glass bottle, another instance of arson at St. Simons, and acts of vandalism at St. Patrick’s, in Wishaw.