Magnificat, anima mea Dominum!
Earlier today my friend Peter and I journeyed to Portsmouth Abbey and School for the blessing of the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto. An outdoor shrine to dedicated to the Virgin Mary who appeared in Lourdes France in the 19th century. Abbot Caedmon led the blessing and School choir sang the traditional hymns to Our Lady.
Abbot Caedmon drew our attention to the humility of Mary appearing to Saint Bernadette asking her to tell the world of the need for prayer and penance. A message clearly consistent with the Gospel of Christ. It is Mary, the Mother of God, Mother of the Church who calls us to greater fidelity to her Son and Our Savior, Jesus. And so the Gospel and Our Lady of Lourdes, so with us today.
The Grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes on the west side of the Portsmouth Abbey campus is the generous gift of an anonymous former student and benefactor of Portsmouth. The generosity of this man is borne of his desire to make the Virgin Mary of Lourdes known and to inspire among those connected with Portsmouth the enduring commitment of faith, reason and service for one’s salvation and the salvation of the world. A significant example of this witness is that the Abbey School, for the last 34 years, has joined with the Ampleforth Abbey Pilgrimage (England) for a service to trip to assist the sick on pilgrimage seeking a divine healing and cure at the great Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France in July.
The stone for the Grotto was harvested from the Abbey property (as was the stone used for the Abbey Church) and a local landscaping crew did the labor. Benedictine Brother Joseph contributed his expertise to the project.
Today’s dedication of the Grotto was a fitting observance on this first Friday of May, the month dedicated by the Church to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Following the blessing, the Abbey and School communities were treated to a beautiful sacred music “Concert Celebrating the Dedication of the Grotto to Our Lady” by The Burgett Ensemble.” The quintet and soprano were ably directed by Harvey Burgett. Musical selections included a piece of Mozart for Clarinet and Strings and Harvey Burgett’s “Ave Maria,” and “De Spiritu Sancto” (Three Portraits of Mary). A magnificent wedding of worship and Catholic culture.
Portsmouth Abbey is the latest of the Benedictine Abbeys to dedicate a Grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes. Other Benedictine monasteries like Belmont Abbey (outside of Charlotte, NC) and St Benedict’s Abbey (Atchison, KS) and Saint Procopius Abbey (outside Chicago) have shrines dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.
May Our Lady of Lourdes richly bless the monks, Oblates, the students, faculty, alumni, and friends of Portsmouth Abbey. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.