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.

Next check out The Top 10 Oldest Churches in NYC 

4 thoughts on “Heaven in the Bronx: Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto at St. Lucy’s Church

  1. Hello,
    I love these emails from Untapped City. Altho I try to get to NYC at least one a year since my first trip in 1986?, you show so much that I have not seen yet. One thing I was excited to learn was that the area known as Morrisana, NY is the Bronx. The oldest home in my home town of Warren, Ohio was built in 1807 by John Stark Edwards for his new bride, Louisa Maria Morris, daughter of Lewis Morris. Morrisana is mentioned many times in different information I have found about the Morris family in my research. I finally had to google and see where Morrisana was. Lo and behold, it is now the Bronx. I would love to visit what is left of Morrisana but have not found a way to do that yet. Thank you so much for all the information you have shared. cindee mines

    1. Hi Cindee, So glad to hear you enjoy our articles! We hope to see you on one of our tours the next time you are in NYC!

  2. Msgr. Lombardo was Sicilian by birth, and stopped at Lourdes in France every time he made the trip back to visit family. With travel restricted due to war looming in Europe at the end of the 30’s, and so many in NY unable ever to afford a transatlantic trip, he intended the Grotto to be a next-best way for people to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes. The church bell located right behind the stone grotto structure tolls on the same note as does the bell at the Lourdes shrine in France.

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