Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
The Grotto Committee’s mission is to make known and spread devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes, as well as other devotions, and to maintain and use the Grotto Grounds and Gift Shop. Our main goal is spreading devotion to the parish’s namesake Our Lady of Lourdes, focusing on the main themes of Lourdes: the Immaculate Conception, the Rosary, and the miraculous Lourdes water. Among other devotions planned are outdoor services including the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Stations of the Cross, Masses, Benedictions, and Rosary processions. All parishioners are welcome to join. Contact the parish office at 419-855-8501 for more information.
In summer of 1932, Bishop Karl Alter, Bishop of Toledo, visited the original Lourdes Grotto in Lourdes, France. He vowed to the Blessed Virgin that when he returned he would build a similar shrine in his diocese. In May of 1933, the Bishop visited the Genoa parish at the invitation of the pastor, Father Jazwiecki, to select the location and plan the building of the shrine. By the end of June, plans were drawn up, in July the work was begun, and by the middle of August the work completed. Men of the parish worked weekends on the Grotto, and with the exception of some of the masonry work ($.35 per hr.), the shrine was built by volunteers.
The Grotto was built of one million pounds of tufa. Tufa is not rock, but post-glacial petrified vegetation. It is coated with mineral deposits and comes from the subterranean springs of the Blue Hole in Castalia, Ohio. Upon close examination, many of the weed-like formations can still be seen on the now moss covered walls. On September 8, 1934, the traditional date to celebrate the birth of the Blessed Virgin, the Grotto was dedicated. The statue of the Virgin, which can be seen in the upper area of the Grotto, and the statue of St. Bernadette kneeling on the ground in front of the Grotto were gifts of Bishop Alter.
When Fr. Kaufman, a chaplain in World War I and a priest who also had visited and prayed at the shrine in Lourdes, France, became pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes, and erected the Stations of the Cross which stand in back of the Grotto. All the actual work on the stone structures was done by Fr. Kaufman, who ordered from a craftsman in Italy the exquisite bronze sculptures encased in the masonry.