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Dominican University: Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto

Contemplative Spot Offers Students a Quiet Place of Prayer

Grotto in 1960
ABOVE: present day view of the Grotto, detail and what the grotto looked like in 1960.
RIVER FOREST, IL October 27 2008 --Amidst Dominican University’s neo-Gothic academic buildings that teem with students and activities, the Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes—more commonly known as the Grotto—has remained a quiet and contemplative area of campus for almost 80 years. Even as the university has grown and technological advancements have been made, a concerted effort has been made to maintain and restore areas on campus such as the Grotto that most reflect the mission and heritage of this Dominican institution.
During this year, the 150th anniversary year of the appearance of the Virgin Mary to St. Bernadette at Lourdes, the Grotto is undergoing a renovation to return it to its original state. The area around the Grotto has been weeded and the flagstones have been reset. In addition, perennials and grass seed were planted. Lighting has been added in the trees and on the ground to illuminate the statue of Mary. The biggest change to the Grotto is that an original pond from 1929 was uncovered and a new pump was installed to circulate the water through the fountain.
Located amidst the trees in the northwest corner of campus, the Grotto has been a quiet sanctuary at the university since 1929. A gift of the class of 1930, Sister M. Benita Newhouse, OP led the students in their fundraising effort for the Grotto. Rosary College (now Dominican University) moved to its River Forest campus in 1922 and Sister Benita was the driving force behind the transformation of the campus.
The Grotto was modeled after the original Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France. It was blessed during the Rosary Sunday Liturgy on October 6, 1929. The original Grotto featured a pond and a stream, but these were later filled in and replaced with flowers.
These renovations have brought new life to an area of campus that has part of student life for decades. The hope is that the Grotto will remain as a quiet place of prayer and reflection amidst the daily stresses of life.

Kristin Peterson
Public Relations Coordinator
Dominican University

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