National Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg

National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Emmitsburg, Maryland, Združene države Amerike

Website of the Sanctuary

+1 301 447-5444

Every day: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (gates close at 5 p.m.)

About the Grotto Shrine

The Emmitsburg Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, a Catholic shrine devoted to Our Blessed Mother Mary, is a place of worship, pilgrimage, evangelization and reconciliation.

This beautiful mountain Grotto Shrine features one of the oldest American replicas of the Lourdes shrine in France, built about two decades after the apparition of Mary at Lourdes in 1858, and attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year from all over the world.

It offers the occasion for a deepening conversion, a step forward in the journey to God, with Mary as the model for that journey.

How to get Lourdes water the quickest and the cheapest way!

Grotto Cave

The Grotto of Lourdes Cave is the center of the Grotto. Located here are the beautiful statue of our Lady of Lourdes, hundreds of small and larger devotional candles, the Grotto stream, St. Bernadette’s statue and benches for reflection and peaceful repose.

St. Bernadette, a young country girl of Lourdes, France, originally saw the Blessed Virgin Mary 18 times in 1858.

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The Grotto Cave, a replica of the Lourdes setting, was begun in 1875 by the Rev. John Waterson, president of Mount St. Mary’s College. Msgr. James Dunn of Meadville, Pa., donated the lovely statue in the niche in 1891.

Prayers of Our Lady of Lourdes

The Emmitsburg Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, devoted to Our Mother Mary, is a beacon of light, hope, courage and inspiration for those who visit and pray at this sacred spot.

During the 16th Apparition to Bernadette, the vision finally revealed her name, but the wild rose bush, on which she stood during the Apparitions, did not bloom.

Bernadette recounted; “She lifted up her eyes to heaven, joined her hands as though in prayer, that were held out and open towards the ground and said to me: “I am the Immaculate Conception)”

The young visionary left and, running all the way, repeated continuously the words that she did not understand. These words troubled the brave Parish Priest. Bernadette was ignorant of the fact that this theological expression was assigned to the Blessed Virgin.

Four years earlier, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared this a truth of the Catholic Faith (a dogma). Mary’s motherhood is universal. We are all placed in her care. Please consider sending your prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady Lourdes. A

Grotto Cave

The Grotto of Lourdes Cave is the center of the Grotto. Located here are the beautiful statue of our Lady of Lourdes, hundreds of small and larger devotional candles, the Grotto stream, St. Bernadette’s statue and benches for reflection and peaceful repose. St. Bernadette, a young country girl of Lourdes, France, originally saw the Blessed Virgin Mary 18 times in 1858. The Grotto Cave, a replica of the Lourdes setting, was begun in 1875 by the Rev. John Waterson, president of Mount St. Mary’s College. Msgr. James Dunn of Meadville, Pa., donated the lovely statue in the niche in 1891.

Prayers of Our Lady of Lourdes
The Emmitsburg Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, devoted to Our Mother Mary, is a beacon of light, hope, courage and inspiration for those who visit and pray at this sacred spot. During the 16th Apparition to Bernadette, the vision finally revealed her name, but the wild rose bush, on which she stood during the Apparitions, did not bloom. Bernadette recounted; “She lifted up her eyes to heaven, joined her hands as though in prayer, that were held out and open towards the ground and said to me:
Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou (I am the Immaculate Conception) .”

The young visionary left and, running all the way, repeated continuously the words that she did not understand. These words troubled the brave Parish Priest. Bernadette was ignorant of the fact that this theological expression was assigned to the Blessed Virgin. Four years earlier, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared this a truth of the Catholic Faith (a dogma). Mary’s motherhood is universal. We are all placed in her care. Please consider sending your prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady Lourdes. Ask Mary to bring peace and lead your loved ones to deeper holiness just as she has done for so many others over the centuries.

Stone from Grotto of Lourdes, France
On November 27, 2007, Most Rev. Jacques Perrier, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, France, announced the 150th Jubilee Year honoring the anniversary of the apparitions of the Immaculate Conception to St. Bernadette Soubirous. The Bishop came to the United States to share the blessings of Lourdes with all Americans. December 1, 2007, Bishop Perrier visited our Grotto of Lourdes in Emmitsburg and offered Mass in the Chapel of St. Mary on the Hill. Following Communion, the Bishop gave a wonderful talk and presented the Grotto with a gift from Lourdes.

This precious gift was a Stone from the Grotto of Lourdes in France, excavated right near the miraculous spring where the Blessed Virgin told St. Bernadette to dig and receive water. The Bishop said he was giving us this stone to “spiritually connect” us to the Lourdes Grotto in France and requested that it be placed in our Grotto, thus making us all members of the Lourdes Family. The Stone has been installed at the Grotto Cave and is there for all of us to see and touch.

Grotto Water
The Grotto Water taps, located around the fountain pool, have been blessed by priests in the past and, most recently, by Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. This water, offered at the Grotto of Lourdes, shall remind you of Jesus Himself who is life-giving water.
Grotto Chaplains are available to bless the Grotto Water. This holy water from the Grotto can be used for blessing of persons, places and objects, or as protection against evil and danger.

The Emmitsburg Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is located just south of Emmitsburg, off of US Route 15.

From Baltimore
I-695 exit 20 to I-795 to MD 140. Follow MD 140 through Westminster and Taneytown to Emmitsburg. Follow the signs to US 15 south and travel approximately 3 miles; pass Mount St. Mary’s University and look for signs (Grotto turn off will be on the right). After leaving US 15, turn left at the stop sign onto St. Anthony Rd. Turn right onto Grotto Rd.

From Washington, DC, and Frederick, MD
Take I-270 north to US 15, past Frederick and north towards Emmitsburg. Approximately 6 miles north of Thurmont look for signs. You will make a left turn just before arriving at Mount St. Mary’s University. After leaving US 15, turn left at the stop sign onto St. Anthony Rd. Turn right onto Grotto Rd.

From Harrisburg, PA
Travel south on US 15 past the Emmitsburg exits. Follow US 15 south just beyond Mount St. Mary’s University. Look for signs (Grotto turn off will be on the right). After leaving US 15, turn left at the stop sign onto St. Anthony Rd. Turn right onto Grotto Rd.

St. Mary’s Chapel

St. Mary’s Chapel on the Hill, also known as the Glass Chapel, is the main chapel at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on Mount St. Mary’s University campus. The chapel was added to the national shrine in 1976 so that thousands of pilgrims can celebrate Mass at the Grotto without concerns of adverse weather. The surrounding windows permits the outside beauty of nature come inside while reflecting on the Blessed Sacrament.

History of Emmitsburg Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

Above the lovely town of Emmitsburg, Maryland, situated high on the mountainside overlooking Mount St. Mary’s University main campus and the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a great statue of Our Lady rises as a beacon atop the Pangborn Memorial Campanile. 

This beautiful mountain shrine devoted to Our Mother Mary attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year from all over the world. It features one of the oldest American replicas of the Lourdes shrine in France, built about two decades after the apparition of Mary at Lourdes in 1858. These holy grounds have a rich history of more than 200 years. A long, detailed story can be told; however, we will share the highlights of Our Lady’s Grotto and invite you to visit to learn more about this special place.

The Search for Freedom
In 1728, a group of Catholics wishing to find religious freedom left St. Mary’s City, Maryland, and headed west. The chief family of the group was the Elders, who settled in the Emmitsburg area with several others sometime after 1740. There they gave the mountain that we stand on its name, “Saint Mary’s Mountain.” There they built homes and founded a settlement for themselves in peace and religious freedom.

A Trinity of Stewards

More than a half century later, the area continued to provide a secure haven for Catholics.
Father John DuBois
Fr. Dubois – stained glass imageIn 1794, Father John DuBois, a refugee from France, came here and was appointed Pastor of Frederick. He was enamored by the beauty of Western Maryland and in 1805, built a church he named “St. Mary’s on the Hill”. According to legend, Father DuBois was attracted to “a light on the mountain and found a blessed spot, one of the loveliest in the world and there erected a crude cross, the symbol of the holy work he was undertaking.”

This was the original grotto. Three years later, Father DuBois founded Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary and College on the lower terraces. After 20 years of service to St. Mary’s on the Hill and Mount Saint Mary’s, Father DuBois was appointed Bishop of New York in 1826.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton – stained glass image Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder of the Sisters of Charity, came to Saint Mary’s Mountain in 1809 and lived in Father DuBois’ log cabin for six weeks, until her home in St. Joseph’s Valley was completed.

It is possible that Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton first called this holy shrine the “Grotto,” for we find this reference in one of her letters dated May 27, 1810. She attended Sunday Mass here throughout the remaining years of her life. She died in 1821 after a life of heroic charity for others and strong faith in God, and was declared a saint in 1975.

Father Simon Gabriel Bruté
Simon Brute – stained glass imageFather Simon Gabriel Bruté, who later became the first bishop of Vincennes, Ind., was the third in a trinity of original stewards of the Grotto. Father Simon Gabriel Bruté came to St. Mary’s Mountain in 1812. Father Bruté had many talents, which he used to help frame the school, community, and Grotto. He was the first Spiritual Director of the Seminary. Of all these talents, the one useful to the Grotto was his love of nature. Father Bruté believed the Lord was with us at all times.

He sought to “smooth the frown from nature’s erring face.” The writings of Bruté indicate that an intense love and devotion were early centered about the Grotto. He and others took it upon themselves to clean up the Grotto. They began a project of removing trees and stumps and cleaning out streams. Paths were made that led from the Terrace to the Church and to the Grotto. Father Bruté attached crosses to the trees from the Church to the Grotto that now line the Stations of the Cross along the entrance. Father Bruté, Father DuBois and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton completed the “trinity” that began and cared for this spiritual place, the Grotto.

Restorer of the Grotto
For a century and a half the Grotto had been almost exclusively a shrine for students and faculty of Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary. Indeed, the only access to the Grotto for the outside world was a mountain road which, in the passing of years, had become an almost impassable gully. In 1958, this road was paved and a trickle of visitors swiftly increased until throngs of pilgrims began to find and love the ancient shrine. The progress of the Cause of Blessed Elizabeth Ann Seton had also focused attention on the place she loved so ardently. In 1959, the number of pilgrims increased to 30,000 who came to kneel in reverent awe in the place of Bishop DuBois, Mother Seton, Bishop Brute, Archbishop Hughes, and a host of prelates and priests and lay people who had grown in the love of their holy Mother at the Grotto.

The most distinguished pilgrim to the Grotto was His Excellency, the Most Reverend Apostolic Delegate (later to be known as Amleto Cardinal Cicognani) in October 1958. He encouraged Father Hugh J. Phillips, the college Librarian and Director of the Grotto, to improve the road and other features. When His Eminence arrived in Rome, he obtained and sent the rich grant of indulgences which may be gained by pilgrims to the Grotto.

After completely refurbishing the Emmitsburg Shrine Grotto, Monsignor Phillips opened it to the public in 1958. Cardinal Shehan, Archbishop of Baltimore, proclaimed the Grotto a Public Oratory on December 8, 1965. Monsignor took care of the Grotto, a task he loved, and has made it what it is today—a beautiful place of worship. He became known as the “Restorer of the Grotto.” He served the Grotto and Mount Saint Mary’s in many ways, including President of the College, Director of the Grotto, and College Librarian. Monsignor Phillips passed on to his heavenly reward in 2004.

The Significance of the Grotto of Lourdes Today
WelcomeJesusHere then is an ancient Shrine of Mary where the pilgrim touches the beginnings and the spread of the Catholic Church in America; for Mount St. Mary’s University history goes back to the beginnings of America. This is a true Marian Shrine where true devotion to Jesus through Mary is fostered and from which it is carried elsewhere. The preacher at the Centennial Services at this Grotto in 1908 (100 year anniversary of Mount St. Mary’s) said that here the pilgrim “knows that not only in name but also in deed he or she is in blessed Mary’s land. In this place, the pilgrim walks in the footsteps of the grounds and other makers of Catholicity in America.”

This National Shrine, a Catholic shrine devoted to Our Blessed Mother Mary, is a place of worship, pilgrimage, evangelization and reconciliation. We will continue the mission of the Grotto as a place of prayerful and peaceful retreat and offer the occasion for a deepening conversion, a step forward in the journey to God, with Mary as the model for that journey.

Posted in North America and United States