Virgen de Lourdes, Montevideo, Uruguay
On February 2, 1941, a new Catholic parish opened on the northern outskirts of Montevideo, staffed by Priests of the Sacred Heart from Holland. In a vacant lot behind the Church of the Savior, Father Pedro Bartels hung a picture of Mary Immaculate on the trunk of a eucalyptus tree, where he gathered a group of children every day to pray the rosary. Soon he built a small replica of the grotto of Lourdes there, and the outdoor prayer group grew to include adults. In 1943, the whole parish consecrated itself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the grotto. A new pastor came, Father Antonio Klomp, who decided to build a full-scale grotto at the site, to serve as a shrine not only for the parish, but for the capital and country of Uruguay. The Archbishop of Montevideo inaugurated the new Gruta de Lourdes in a torchlight ceremony on February 8, 1947. Now surrounded by landscaped grounds, with a Calvary and a reconciliation chapel, the Grotto attracts thousands of pilgrims monthly, many of whom put their faith into action by bringing supplies for the needy, such as food and clothing. The archdiocese celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes here on February 11 and a Day of Health on the first Sunday in November.
(Information from "Santuario Nacional de la Gruta de Lourdes," Conferencia Episcopal del Uruguay / Iglesia Católica, iglesiacatolica.org.uy/santuarios/virgen-de-lourdes-montevideo. Photo taken Jan. 1, 2006, © CStudioAnimate, "Gruta de Lourdes," Flickr - Photo Sharing!, www.flickr.com/photos/54970333@N05/5097083346.)
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