The National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is one of Maryland's most peaceful religious destinations. It is located in Emmitsburg, Maryland and sits high on a mountainside. The grotto dates back to the very beginning of Catholicism in the United States. The space is linked to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and the shrine is one of the oldest American replicas of this French Shrine. The shrine attracts thousands of pilgrims from all parts of the world for meditation and prayer in the serene, holy environment.
The history of the shrine includes bravery, religious strife, and ultimately, independence. In 1728 a group of Catholics seeking religious freedom headed west from St. Mary's City. Led by the Elders, they traveled to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Choosing one, they named it Saint Mary's Mountain and built homes in the valley below, calling it Saint Joseph's Valley. It was 1805 when Father John DuBuis settled in Saint Joseph's Valley. He constructed the church and as legend has it, was attracted to a light on the mountain he felt was blessed and one of the loviliest spots in the world. He erected a cross and the Grotto was born. In 1809, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton paid a visit to the mountain and stayed with Father DuBois for six weeks. In 1812, Father Simon Gabriel Brute came to the mountain and took on the responsibility for clearing the area around the Grotto. It was Father Brute, Father DuBois, and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton who became known as the trinity who cared for the Grotto.
Over a century later, Reverend Msgr. Hugh J. Phillips gained the reputation of being the Grotto's restorer. He refurbished the Shrine and opened it to the public. He was appointed the Chaplain of the Grotto by Baltimore's Archbiship in 1965. It was Msgr. Phillips who made the place the peaceful destination it is today. Today, the Grotto is the site of spiritual retreats and personal pilgrimages. The Grotto is open April through September from 7:30 am until 7:30 pm. October through March it closes at 5:30 pm. They offer mass Saturdays and Sundays at noon. Sundays mass is preceeded by confession beginning at 11:30. There is a Eucharistic Adoration from 9:00 am until noon on Thursdays.
Those visiting the Grotto are invited to purchase items affiliated with the shrine including Grotto prints, a rosary, or Grotto water. These keepsakes can be used at home in mediation and prayer. Overnight accomodations can be made for groups visiting the Grotto. There are also meal plans available in the dining hall at St. Mary's University. There are three chapels located on the grounds, restrooms, and parking facilities, as well as The Grotto Cave. The Cave is located at the center of the Grotto, and there stands a statue of the Lady of Lourdes. There are hunreds of devotional candle, the Grotto stream, St. Bernadette's statue, and benches available for visitors to reflect and prayer. The National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is a peaceful destination for those seeking peace and spiritual inspiration.