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Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto

 
 
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 20, 2015
1. Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Marker
Inscription. Devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes
In 1858 Bernadette Soubirous, a peasant girl of fourteen, reported to have witnessed apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a grotto at Lourdes, France. The figure led Bernadette to a source of a spring, instructed her to drink its water, tell the priests to have a chapel built at the site, and to have the people come there in procession. Thousands of miraculous healings have since been attributed to the spring's waters. The grotto at Lourdes has become a pilgrimage site of world-wide renown and Roman Catholics have developed a widespread devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes.

A Grotto for St. Nicholas
Fr. Dobroslav Soric, the parish priest in the 1940s, had a deep personal devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes and promoted devotion to the Blessed Mother in his sermons to the congregation. Fr. Soric decided that a grotto would be erected to commemorate the centennial of St. Bernadette's birth and the golden anniversary of St. Nicholas Parish in 1944. At that time, the building of grottoes in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes was also promoted throughout the Pittsburgh region by Fr. James Cox, a friend of Fr. Soric and Pastor of St. Patrick Church in Pittsburgh's Strip District, who credited the miraculous restoration of his vision to water from Lourdes. Fr. Cox was an
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 20, 2015
2. Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Marker
accredited chaplain of Lourdes and was asked to provide spiritual guidance on the grotto construction. Fr. Cox held a novena to St. Bernadette on October 24, 1943, at which he blessed the grotto cornerstone.

In order to save on the cost of the excavation, men of the parish excavated 660 tons of dirt with picks and shovels, often in evenings after long days at their jobs had ended. Women supported the effort by cooking meals at the church, and children offered assistance because many of the young men were away at war. Parishioners toiled throughout the summer of 1944 in a remarkable display of faith and devotion. Fr. Cox later delivered the address at the grotto dedication on October 15, 1944, which was the centennial of St. Bernadette's birth.

Five-Story Grotto a Landmark to Travelers
St. Nicholas Parishioners built the most elaborate shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes in the Pittsburgh area. At the apex of the grotto was a niche holding a statue of the Blessed Mother gazing to heaven. On the next level down was an underground chapel and altar made of white marble. Stone steps with wrought iron railing led down four stories and over bridges to the church balcony, the front doors, and a courtyard gathering space. Flowers were placed throughout the shrine, and luminaria and evergreen trees lined the steps at Christmas. During warm weather, Mass
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Marker Photo insets image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 20, 2015
3. Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Marker Photo insets
(top left photo)
Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879).
She was canonized a Saint by Pope Pius XI in 1933.

(top right photo)
A statue of St. Bernadette gazing up to Mary in prayer was located on the patio in front of the grotto chapel.

(center left photo)
Father Dobroslav Soric, pastor of St. Nicholas North Side from 1931 to 1948.

(center right photo)
St. Nicholas School, class of 1969, at grotto where school Masses were often held.

(bottom photo)
Detail of altar in the grotto chapel, a popular place for private prayer and devotion. The chapel was donated by Mrs. Mary Crnkovic, whose son, Corporal Walter J. Crnkovic, was the first member of the parish to die in World War II.
was held at the grotto every Saturday at noon, and a rosary was said before each Mass. The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes graced the hillside behind St. Nicholas Church for nearly 70 years. It was razed by the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 2013.
 
Erected 2015 by Preserve Croatian Heritage Foundation.
 
Location. 40° 27.503′ N, 79° 59.189′ W. Marker is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Allegheny County. Marker can be reached from Walkway to St. Nicholas Church Historic Site 0.7 miles south of 31st Street Bridge. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pittsburgh PA 15212, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Croatian Church, North Side (here, next to this marker); St. Nicholas Church (here, next to this marker); Mala Jaska (here, next to this marker); Saint Nicholas Roman Catholic Church (here, next to this marker but has been reported missing); St. Nicholas Church and Mala Jaska (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Herr's Island (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Menace of the Iron Horse (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Thomas Carlin's Sons Foundry (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Pittsburgh.
 
Categories. Churches, Etc.War, World II
 
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Marker Photo insets image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 20, 2015
4. Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Marker Photo insets
Detail of grotto dedication plaque in grotto chapel
"Commemorating the Centennial of St. Bernadette birth & Golden Jubilee of oldest Croatian Parish in U.S.A.
Parishioners & Croatian Catholics of America erect this Grotto in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes.
A.D. 1944"

(bottom left photo)
Front view of Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, which stood to the left of St. Nicholas Church.

(bottom right photo)
At the grotto apex stood a statue of the Blessed Mother gazing toward heaven.
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, October 14, 2012
5. Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
The grotto before its demolition in 2013.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 271 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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