Spirit Daily

In Maryland, Grotto With Hidden Past Of The Miraculous Continues With Miracles

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

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


Lourdes grotto in Maryland:http://www.screensaves.com/grotto.htm



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Calls From the Fatima Message, by Sister Lucia, the famous Fatima visionary. Finding herself flooded with constant questions and feeling it was beyond her to reply to each questioner, the cloistered nun asked the Holy Spirit for permission to write a text that would reply in general to the many questions -- and here it is! This is in effect a long letter to all of us, written entirely by Sister Lucia for you and me, based on Scriptural passages. click here