In Maryland, Grotto With Hidden Past Of The Miraculous Continues With Miracles
By Michael H. Brown
It's located in Maryland just 12 miles south of Gettysburg, spanning the foothills above a college on land that has long been fabled for its spiritual grace, a land, indeed, of legend. In its history, in the hidden archives, in that realm that has been obscured by modern scientism, is a timetable of miracles so rich that they raise the possibility of a spiritual "power spot" (a touch of Lourdes, Fatima, or Betania) here in the U.S. (which despite its size is still without an officially recognized site of apparitions). A place where the veil between here and the hereafter is thin or even parted.
We speak here of the area in and around Mount St. Mary's College and the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes just outside of a town called Emmitsburg, where holiness and mystery cling to hollows -- to the rises -- and transcend the generations.
Let's put that more simply: miracles have been claimed for this spot at least since colonial times, for 300 years, and appear to be continuing.
Legend holds that around the time Native Americans were expelled from this area, once known as Indian Lookout, a young Maryland colonist, "having stained his manhood with a dark crime," as the archives have it, and now touched by grace, fled to the mountain to expiate his sin by a life of hard penance. He became a hermit, and on one of his descents to a spring cried out to God and the Blessed Mother. "O God, my Redeemer! Thy sight! That thou art appeased!" he is said to have prayed, and shortly after spotted a dazzling light. In the middle of it was "a Lady transcendently beautiful."
Now here is where we get to a crucial part: the woman allegedly told this settler that her Son was indeed appeased but that the hermit was to build a temple bearing the name of Mary Immaculate. If this is true and the timetable is correct, it means that the Blessed Mother connected this spot in Maryland to Lourdes, France (where she described herself as the Immaculate Conception) decades before the famous French apparition actually occurred (in 1858). Later, it was said that heavenly music could be heard from a cave, and at harvest moon, a strange light shone above the area.
The grotto itself was established by a French missionary priest named Father John DuBois, who had come to America to escape the French Revolution and founded Mount St. Mary's in 1808. According to the archives, Father DuBois, who once served as a tutor to Patrick Henry's children, built a church to replace a smaller chapel, which was soon joined by a college and seminary that stand to this day. Father DuBois, who later became bishop of New York, was also said to have encountered the supernatural.
"A beautiful legend, handed down through generations of mountaineers, recounts the fact that Father DuBois, wearied after a hard day in dispatch of his parish duties in the area, was attracted by a light on the mountainside and thinking it a settler's residence hoped to find food and rest," says the seminary's special historical collection -- noting that the priest then "idly shaped a few twigs into a Cross in the crotch of the lowest tree," which marked the spot of the future grotto -- a grotto later fashioned, as we have noted, after Lourdes, where the Blessed Mother appeared in a cave, and where there was likewise heavenly music.
The Maryland grotto became a favorite spot for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who worshipped in the foothills and established a religious order of nuns nearby. She died in 1821 and was canonized in January of 1975.
For years we have heard of modern-day miracles at this place, including alleged healings for those who pray at the grotto. The priest who is now in charge of the site prefers not to talk about that, but as one correspondent there wrote us, "The grotto is a special place. There have been many miracles that have come about from people drinking from the spring there. There are boxes of letters of answered prayers, since the grotto has been opened to the public in 1958. That of course is not to be spoken about either -- but you talk to anyone and you will get stories of healing."
Are there still miracles there? Is this indeed an American connection to Lourdes? Do phenomena continue? We note a letter we recently received from John Potocki of Hanover, Pennsylvania. Writes John: "I have told this story to one other source as it is difficult to believe, even for me. In December of 1997 I was told that I needed a four-level, cervical corpectomey which is a 'near impossible' surgery that
almost always has very nasty side effects. To complicate matters there are not five surgeons in the U.S. who have performed this surgery. I was off work from January 31 to the surgery date in February. During this time I often went to the Lourdes Grotto in Emmitsburg. I would get there early on a week day, generally around eight in the morning. Now at 7:30 to 8:00 in the morning it is quite cold and there was never anyone there, never. Who goes to a Grotto
when it is 15 or 20 degrees out and even colder on the mountain?
"One cold morning I was walking up to the Calvary Scene when a young, radiant nun dressed in a habit was walking down carrying flowers. I was immediately struck by her sense of radiant calm and peace; it was overwhelming. Pure serenity! She said to me, 'Excuse me sir, but if you are going to the Chapel it will not be open until 10.' I thanked her and told her I was going to the Calvary Scene. I was just deeply moved by her serenity and true happiness. At that time, in my 53 years, I had never encountered anyone like this at any time -- total peace and serenity. She just exuded an ethereal radiance that was almost beyond understanding. I was thunderstruck. I couldn't tell if she was 22 or 32; she seemed ageless.
"Well I went to the Calvary Scene where I would kneel and pray for my family and to either die or make a reasonable recovery. Working in medicine for twenty years has taught me the horrors of body paralysis. I had the surgery, went through some very difficult months, and retired. Remarkably, the other physicians can't believe my seemingly amazing condition. They are astonished at the lack of problems and consider the problems I have to be far less than expected. Thank you Good Lord!
"Years later I was speaking with a nun at our parish in Abbottstown, and I told her of the experience with the nun at the Grotto in Emmitsburg. She stopped in her tracks and told me, 'There are no nuns at Emmitsburg , furthermore, there are not four in the area that are younger than I am.' She is in her late forties. She also said there were very few who wore the habit anymore. This shook me up."
Did he encounter his own miracle? An apparition? Or just a special nun put there at a time of need? In fact, there are nuns in the area, at least at the seminary. But there was a different quality about her, reported John (you discern) -- and whatever the case, the Lord placed a nun or an apparition or an angel there when John needed it, as so many have reported.
And oh, yes, one last mystery: the young "nun" was carrying fresh flowers down
from the Grotto -- in February. "I still can't explain that," writes Potocki.
We ask those who have had any miraculous events occur at this shrine let the shrine rector know or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lourdes grotto in Maryland:http://www.screensaves.com/grotto.htm
Priest And Indian Chief Both Claimed To Have Seen Virgin Mary Near Camp David
By Michael H. Brown
Apparitions and visions associated with the site of Mount St. Mary's just south of Gettysburg in northern Maryland extended from Colonial times at least through 1971, we have learned. As we related last week, reports of appearances by the Blessed Mother date back 300 years on this holy mountain near Camp David -- where legend records a Maryland colonist who had taken to the mountain as a hermit and experienced a prophetic apparition around the time Indians were leaving the vicinity. The recluse claimed to have seen a dazzling light. In the middle of it was "a Lady transcendently beautiful" who allegedly predicted that a temple bearing her name would be built there, along with an "institution."
Around the same time, an Indian named Ottawanta is alleged to have experienced a similar apparition in a nearby town called Emmitsburg (where, as we shall see next week, phenomena are still reported). "In the 1600s, back in Canada, this Piscataway Indian chief embraced the faith and the rest of his tribe didn't, so he and his family were ostracized, driven, out, and so they moved south and settled near Toms Creek, which is in present-day Emmitsburg," we're told by Father Paul Richardson of Great Falls, Virginia, who extensively researched the history of the area. "I believe he had seven daughters and three sons. One by one the daughters and sons died off, and his wife as well, and he buried them nearby, planting oak trees over their graves. If you look back there today, there's a whole grove of them now. For years he lived there by himself. He would receive the sacraments from the missionaries when they traveled through, but it wasn't possible to go to Mass regularly, so he kept his faith by reciting the Rosary."
Around 1710, Mary appeared to Ottawanta and said, "This place will forever bear testimony to your love and fidelity." According to Father Richardson, "she pointed to the mountain, where Mount St. Mary's [a seminary along with a grotto] is now built, and said, 'There on the mountain a shrine to my name will crown the mountain's brow and from the foot of the mountain will go scores of Levites and mitered heads who will bring the Gospel to the corners of the world.' And then she said, 'On this spot, a holy sisterhood will arise and many will repair here to repeat Aves that will be answered by a thousand voices.' She added, 'The first blossoms of spring will crown my head, and the first fruits of the harvest will be laid at my feet. And I will be revered as the Flower of the Field and the Lily of the Valley.' Ottawanta apparently told this to a missionary afterwards."
There is question about whether it was a message similar to that given the colonial hermit, or whether the legends have interwoven in the retelling (for the hermit, if these are separate cases, had also mentioned "Levites"). Whatever the case, "mitered heads" certainly did come from the mountain, starting with Father John DuBois, who had come to America to escape the French Revolution and founded Mount St. Mary's in 1808. According to the archives, Father DuBois built a church to replace a smaller chapel, which was soon joined by a college and seminary that stand to this day (in a vicinity soon frequented by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton -- who indeed founded a sisterhood). Father DuBois later became Bishop of New York.
But that's not all. On July 29, 1971, a newspaper reported that "fifty members of the John Timon Reily Historical Society stood in silent awe at the National Shrine of the Grotto of Lourdes [on Mount St. Mary's] as Monsignor High Phillips speculated that there had been an apparition there. He told them of Monsignor George Mulcahy's last visit to the shrine, which the two were instrumental in developing."
According to the account, Mulcahy, pastor of a cathedral in Harrisburg, pleaded with an ambulance driver to take him to the grotto on a trip from Harrisburg to Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, where he died that spring.
"Monsignor Mulcahy prayed five minutes at the cave which is the focal point of the grotto, and is repository for a statue of the Blessed Virgin," said the newspaper. "He later remarked to his niece Rita that "the Blessed Mother is more beautiful than ever."
Monsignor Phillips then visited Monsignor Mulcahy at Georgetown, "and in their conversation the monsignor," said the newspaper, "the former president of Mount St. Mary's College, said, 'George, I heard you took a detour on your way here?'
"Yes," answered Monsignor Mulcahy, "and the Blessed Mother was more beautiful than ever."
When Monsignor Phillips pointed out that the statue of the Blessed Mother, usually standing at the grotto, was in the paint shop, the dying monsignor insisted, "She was there. I saw her." Commented the newspaper: "Monsignor Phillips firmly believes that Monsignor Mulcahy truly saw a vision of the Blessed Mother."
Some say the grotto's founder, Father DuBois, himself later appeared in apparition to a troubled youth. Meanwhile, music and voices are indeed heard near the grotto. There are miracles of the sun. It's where Jackie Onassis sometimes came to pray when she and her husband were at Camp David.
As we shall see next week, the phenomena continue....
Array Of Phenomena Claimed At Mount -- From Healing To Sighting Of Huge 'Angel'
Miracles of the sun, manifestations of light, healings, the scent of roses, mysterious strangers, angelic music, apparitions, extraordinary coincidences, and other phenomena are widely reported at the holy site of Mount St. Mary's in Maryland, a parcel of land less than a dozen miles from both Gettysburg and Camp David.
The numerous accounts hint that this strategically placed site -- within commuter's distance of the nation's capital -- may be designated to play a role in the nation's spiritual future. Should Mount St. Mary's stand as a center of pilgrimage as the U.S. finds itself hurled from one potential crisis to another?
If nothing else, it is one of America's foremost places of the mystical. As we have previously reported, it is a rise of land with a Lourdes grotto and other sanctuaries that have been the location for apparitions for the past 300 years (from an Indian chief and a Maryland colonist to more recent apparitions to a priest who said he saw the Blessed Mother at the grotto in the 1970s). For three centuries the mount has stood as a site of the supernatural, with many who visit claiming the extraordinary.
One example are the photos below of a nearby church, where the cross suddenly "turned to flames," according to one pilgrim -- Roberta Ann Marziani, a photo editor at TV Guide. "I was so shocked when I came out and saw it," says Roberta, who lives in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. "It took my breath away. I always carry my camera with me and I really quickly took out my 35 millimeter and snapped the photos. When I first saw it I stood in awe. It was right at 3 p.m. on the Blessed Mother's birthday."
Marziani, who experienced a conversion at Mount Saint Mary's, first visited there on February 11, 1999 -- feast day of Lourdes. "I went with my mother and a nurse, Diane, who told me about it, and a friend of hers who had a little girl. All five of us went to the grotto and were walking up the pathway to the grotto and all of a sudden Diane said, 'Look at the sun,' and all five of us saw the miracle of the sun. It started spinning, then pulsating, then pulsing in colors. It was rose, blue, and green. I couldn't believe I was seeing it. I read about it in Fatima and Medjugorje and here we saw it at the grotto. I also took four pictures of Mother [Elizabeth Ann] Seton's rock. Every Sunday she would sit on the rock and teach the children Catholic doctrine. I was taking pictures and trying to get the rock and a little statue and all the pictures came out the same but one. It had white rays, and it wasn't the sun because you can tell by the shadows that the sun was behind me. I know other people who have gotten miraculous pictures."
A couple weeks after her visit, Roberta says she discovered a lump on the calf of her left leg and two doctors said if it didn't go away within a month they would have to biopsy it. "I was really upset, and my second visit to the grotto was March 25," she says. "That was the day Maryland was founded by a Father White, who landed on St. Clement's Island in 1634, which happened to be the feast of the Annunciation, and named Maryland 'Mary's Land' in honor of Our Lady. Anyway, something told me to go up to a spring where water comes out like at Lourdes. It was cold, but something told me to pull up my pant leg and I splashed the water on the lump three times. The very next day the lump started shrinking and by the end of week it was gone. The two doctors couldn't believe it."
The phenomena date back at least to the Indian, known as Ottawanta, and the unnamed Maryland colonist, who supposedly saw the Blessed Mother at the mount in the 1700s, along with the shrine's founder, Father John DuBois, who allegedly spotted a strange light on the mountain in the 1800s [see previous stories]. Since then, many had claimed similar occurrences, including Rosemarie DeFrank of Harrisburg, who reports that three years ago, she dropped her rosary on the ground there and when she picked them up, saw that the links had turned golden. "I couldn't believe what I saw and brought them over to my husband," she told Spirit Daily. "The rosary was brand new and the links had been shiny and silver. He checked his rosary and his were the same. We just sat there speechless. Another time, as we were walking into the Grotto, I distinctly heard singing as if a Choir was there. It was very brief. I mentioned it to my husband but he didn't hear anything. I insisted I did and even walked down to the Grotto area to see if any of the seminarians were there. No one was except two or three people praying. It wasn't loud, just a very brief burst of music coming from somewhere."
The mountain appears to be what might be termed a spiritual power spot. We're told that in 1990, seer Ivan Dragicevic of Medjugorje visited the shrine. During his apparition (which lasted about seven minutes) a gentle warm rain fell. "Amazingly, after the apparition ended, no one was wet, nor was the ground wet," asserts one account. "Some who were standing or kneeling nearby did not experience the rain."
Weather effects are also noted by a correspondent named Jennifer D'Aquila of Waldorf, Maryland, who informs us that during Mass, the atmosphere seems rarefied. "The actual climate seemed to change with the air becoming very still and warm, like a soft blanket, and then there was the scent of roses," she asserts.
Perhaps most dramatic is the additional testimony from Roberta Marziani of what she claims was a huge angel praying over the area. "I was just getting ready to get in the car to go home and something in the sky caught my attention," reports the TV Guide editor. "I saw the swirling and I looked and there was this huge, huge angel praying. There was nothing else in the sky but stars and this angel. It was five a.m. This was also on the Blessed Mother's birthday. It was the bottom of the swirling that caught my eye. There were no clouds. It looked like the rays that were in my picture from the grotto, like a white-veil material, and I could see the stars through it. I could make out its head and the wings and his hands, which were in prayer. The head was bowed. This was September 8, 2000. It was two years to the day I got the picture of the steeple. I was just so shocked to see it. I got out of the car three times, because I couldn't believe I was seeing this. I got on Route 15 and could see it for about 15 miles. That's how big it was. It was coming from the grotto mountain.
"You know that saying that we're a speck of dust in the universe? When you saw this, that's how you felt. It was so huge. It just shot up in the sky."
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Shrine In Maryland Joins List Of Grottos Said To Possess Special Healing Powers
by Michael H. Brown
We get a feeling of grace when we speak of the old shrine of Mount St. Mary's in Maryland. It's a place that has stood for three centuries as the center of unusual occurrences -- in short, an anointed spot. This happens every once in a while. The Lord sanctions a place, and healings often occur.
They especially seem to occur in connection with replicas of the famous Lourdes grottos -- shrines and statues fashioned after the famous site in France where Bernadette saw the Blessed Mother in 1858. They are usually stone constructs with the Blessed Mother as the Immaculate Conception and sometimes with a little statue of Bernadette.
We've seen this time and again. We've seen it here in the U.S. -- where healings have been reported at a Lourdes grotto in Eureka, Missouri. We've seen reports of phenomena at such a grotto in Illinois. And in Euclid, Ohio. Also, one that's not far from Dayton. I remember visiting there and feeling something special. Do you have accounts of similar situations?
No doubt, there are others. Not all come to mind. There are so many. Overseas, miracles have been attributed to Lourdes grottos in places like Venezuela and Croatia and Ireland -- where Our Lady of Lourdes stands at the entrance of many villages and towns and where there was an upsurge of phenomena in the 1980s. On a visit to Ireland in 1992 to survey these situations I was astonished at the consistency of reports. From the east to west, from the southernmost tip to Northern Ireland, from Armagh to Ballinspittle, statues of the Virgin seemed to be coming to life. The statues were at roadside shrines. Strange fogs were descending on the miniature shrines and when the fog cleared these grottos would seem to temporarily "disappear," replaced by the spectacle of a shimmering heavenly meadow with the living three-dimensional figure of the Virgin standing there instead of a statue.
So similar were these visions that it was like one gargantuan national occurrence.
And now there is also Mount St. Mary's, which has had a Lourdes grotto since the early 1800s, when it was established by a saintly French missionary priest named Father John DuBois.
As we have previously reported, many claim healings in connection with the grotto, and we believe these should be reported. According to one correspondent familiar with the shrine, there are "boxes of letters of answered prayers, since the grotto has been opened to the public in 1958" [see previous stories]. We have heard from a good number of you who have had similar experiences. Usually they occur when a person is simply alone there, praying from the heart: for a new job, for help in a family squabble, for a cure. In a video called "Whispers of Mount St. Mary's" is the testimony of a Maryland psychiatrist, Dr. Robert E. Ludicke, who recounted a hearing problem that developed in the 1960s. "It grew progressively worse, and by 1967 I realized I had to find out what the problem was, and they determined that I had a gradual deterioration," he said in this public video. "By 1968 [my doctor] gave me use of a hearing aid. In 1975 he recommended a special surgical procedure."
It didn't work. When his hearing was tested after the surgery, Dr. Ludicke couldn't hear a thing. He was told there may never be a return of hearing.
"I was obviously distressed and I went home and told my wife and said, 'What I'm going to do now is go up to the grotto and start a Rosary and pray,'" he recounts. "I went directly from the office to the grotto, prayed a Rosary, and put medicine from the spring in my ear, and the hearing improved to the point where for a long time I didn't have to use a hearing aid."
There is also the testimony of a seminarian there who had a serious eye problem. His name is Bob Bailey. He had only one eye and it was in difficulty. He was facing blindness. But after visiting the grotto, he was given a clean bill of optical health.
There is also Joanne McDermott, who had carpal tunnel syndrome so bad she couldn't touch anything. Pain shot up her arm. Her fingers were very numb -- and she didn't really want surgery. She asked for a spiritual healing and got it after visiting the grotto.
"I pray with expectancy and confidence," she said. "When I got home I realized that I had been completely healed. I didn't realize it instantly. Sometimes healings happen gradually."
It's a place that was home to Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton and was visited by the likes of St. John Neumann. As one rector said, "People just sense something sacred about it." So do we. This is true at many places that honor the Blessed Mother as she appeared to Bernadette -- who construct replicas in honor of God's healing and who bring a little piece of Lourdes as a result.
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