Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican gardens

* February 11 – Our Lady of Lourdes (France) – Fifth apparition in Banneux (Belgium)   * A Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican gardens ----- A Moment with Mary --

Une Minute avec Marie
An initiative of the Mary of Nazareth Association

February 11 – Our Lady of Lourdes (France) – Fifth apparition in Banneux (Belgium)  

A Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican gardens

Strolling further along under some ilex trees one arrives at the highest point of the Vatican Gardens. At 71 metres above sea level it coincides with the spiritual heart of the park, the Lourdes Grotto. An exact replica of the one at Massabielle, it was donated by the French in 1902 to Pope Leo XIII (Vincenzo Gioacchino dei Conti Pecci, 1878- 1903). A statue of Our Lady is framed by a bright green mantle of American ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata Planch.) above the original altar of the grotto donated to Pope John XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, 1958-1963). It is a place where traditionally at the end of May each year the pope comes to pray and greet the faithful who have made their way up the hill in a torch-light procession.
They say that in Rome every person, every family, and every country has its home. This is especially true of Lourdes. When she appeared in Lourdes, Our Lady called herself “the Immaculate Conception.” The Holy Father wanted to recognize and venerate Our Lady of Lourdes in the heart of the Church—establishing a Lourdes Grotto replica in the Vatican gardens and one of the first altars actually used at the real Massabielle Grotto in Lourdes. The construction of this grotto was requested by Pope Leo XIII in 1902 and inaugurated by Pope Pius X in 1905.

Lourdes is also about the sick. The Pope celebrates with them the anniversary of the apparitions of Lourdes at Saint Peter's on February 11th. This year, on that same date, the World Day of the Sick will be celebrated in the large shrine of Our Lady of Altotting in Bavaria.

When the Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception (the Garaison Fathers), the first chaplains of Lourdes, looked for a place to settle in Rome, they chose the house where Saint Benedict Joseph Labre died. Saint Benedict Joseph lived on the streets as a beggar and was buried in Rome in the church della Madonna dei Monti. This saint is the patron saint of the Hospitality of Lourdes. His local diocese, the diocese of Arras (France), recently erected a statue of him near the Abri Saint-Michel (Saint Michael’s Shelter in Lourdes).

Father André Cabes
Rector of the Shrines of Lourdes November 2015