Built in thanksgiving for the end of the Great War — World War I (1914-1918) — the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes was begun in 1918 in a ravine on the south side of the motherhouse grounds. According to the 1937 Handbook of the Sisters of Providence, Mother Mary Cleophas Foley, the general superior at the time, made a promise “to erect a new shrine in honor of our Lady of Lourdes should peace be declared between the warring nations before Dec. 8 [the Feast of the Immaculate Conception] of that year. The signing of the Armistice Nov. 11, 1918, gave the longed-for assurance and the work on the grotto was begun.”
The grotto at the Woods was based upon the blueprints of the renowned grotto in Lourdes, France. The Sisters of Providence Archives house these blueprints today.
The Handbook continues to describe this sacred place: “Stones from Lourdes [France] are embedded in the masonry, and a tiny stream of water trickles over them. The large rosary of the statue came from Lourdes. …”
After nearly a decade, the grotto was consecrated Feb. 11, 1928.