Tuesday, February 8, 2011

52. RETRO-SANTO: Lourdes Grotto of Baguio

OUR LADY OF LOURDES. A popular tourist and pilgrim destination since the turn of the 20th century. The grotto, with the stone image of Our Lady continues to be one of Baguio's enduring landmarks. Ca. 1924.

One of Baguio’s long-standing landmark is the Lourdes Grotto at Quezon Hill in the western part of Baguio, overlooking the city. There, the painted stone image of Our Lady of Lourdes perches, reachable by 252 steps from the ground.

The popular shrine replicates the Lourdes grove where the Virgin Mary appeared to a young French woman, Bernadette Soubirous in Massabielle in the town of Lourdes, France. The devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes was approved in 1962 by the Pope and has since grown into a worldwide devotion.

The grotto was established in 1907 by the Jesuits and has since become a nationally well-known pilgrimage site, frequented by devotees and tourists, moreso during the Holy Week. Pilgrims usually negotiate the steep steps to reach the image of Our Lady, lighting candles at an altar before the image.

The grotto has undergone many facelifts through the years. Hanging milk glass lamps used to hang inside the grotto to light the image of Our Lady. This old picture, for instance, shows part of the painted inscription: 'Qué soï era immaculado councepcioũ,' a phonetic transcription of "I am the Immaculate Conception" which Our Lady declared to Bernadette in French Gascon Occitan language. Today, a metal arch frames it with the words "Tota Pulchra Es Maria" (Thou Art All Fair, Oh Mary.)

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