History of Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Flatrock, NL started in 1954 and was formally dedicated on August 17th, 1958 by the Most Reverend P.J. Skinner, C.J.M. D.D.; Archbishop of St. John’s.
The inspiration for this beautiful Grotto came about as the result of a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France by the parish priest at that time, Reverend Father William Sullivan.
Father Sullivan, like so many Catholics that year, made a pilgrimage to Lourdes to mark the Marian Year, declared in 1954 by Pope Pius XII. While visiting this renowned shrine, Father Sullivan was struck by the similarity of the Grotto terrain at Lourdes and the land surrounding the Church at Flatrock in his own parish.
Upon his return to his parish, Father Sullivan decided that Flatrock would be an ideal place to construct a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes. He informed his parishioners of his dream and work soon began to make his dream a reality.
Today as a result of the hard work on the part of Flatrock parishioners and much support from friends outside the community, Flatrock lays claim to the largest religious Grotto in Eastern Canada.
Much of the design work, supervision and mason work for the Grotto was carried out by the late Michael Curtis of St. John’s. He, along with the voluntary help of the local people, began excavating the rock and gravel from the side of the cliff. The first phase of the Grotto, the cave, in which stands the statue of Our Blessed Mother and St. Bernadette was completed in 1958, in time to mark the apparitions to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France.
In the following years the life-size Crucifix, the Stations of the Cross and the statue of St. Michael, Patron Saint of the Community were added. All were purchased through the direct contributions of parishioners and friends or placed there in memory of a loved one.
Annual parish devotions are held at the Grotto during the summer months.
The Legion of Mary from other parishes gather annually on the Sunday nearest the feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven to recite the Rosary.
There are also many daily visitors to the Grotto during the summer. These people not only visit from various parts of Newfoundland but from all over North America.
On September 12, 1984 a special blessing was accorded the Grotto and the people of the parish when His Holiness, Pope John Paul II visited Flatrock and knelt at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto to pray.
A volunteer committee maintains the upkeep of the Grotto.