Near Allerton Avenue in the Bronx, a French-style grotto has been blessing Bronx natives for decades. The Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto at St. Lucy’s Church is located a few bus stops away from the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo, yet has remained undiscovered to many New Yorkers. However, for residents of the Bronx, this heavenly exhibit has been a symbol of the community since it was constructed in 1939.
First designed in 1937 by Msgr Pasquale Lombardo, the Grotto’s construction began after the building of its adjoining church, St. Lucy’s. Lombardo, who was from Italy, was commissioned by the diocese to begin a new parish in the Bronx. His vision of Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto was heavily influenced by the famous grotto in Lourdes, France.
The grotto stones were hand cut by Italian craftsman Gino Brandolin who was a third generation citizen of the Bronx. By time the cave was finished, it stood at nearly thirty feet tall complete with a running waterfall and candles. Its design allows New Yorkers to experience the intimate nature of the grotto in Lourdes, France, without making the pilgrimage across the Atlantic.
Opposite the grotto are benches and flowers which allow onlookers to sit and reflect. Additionally, adjacent to the site is the Hall of Saints, which offers a place for followers to continue their prayers and visit the chapel’s gift shop. The adjoining St. Lucy’s Church is a popular wedding destination due to the beauty of its grounds.
Neighboring the grotto is a replica of the Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta), which are the 28 steps that Jesus Christ ascended in Jerusalem to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate. This garden is not always open to the public but can be viewed from afar. Statues of Jesus and angels make this beautiful garden a spectacle that rivals the grotto.
The grotto is open everyday from sunrise to sunset, with the only exceptions being during times of inclement weather. For more information about St. Lucy’s Church or the Our Lady of Lourde’s Grotto, visit their website.
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