Christianity, New York, Religion, United States

Visiting the Bronx Lourdes Grotto

Visiting the Bronx Lourdes Grotto

As a practicing Catholic, I am familiar with the miracle at Lourdes, but I had no idea of this little American-version! Luckily one of our NEH program readings, “Everyday Miracles: The Study of Lived Religion” by Robert Orsi, prepared us for the visit. The garden around the church of St. Lucy is a replica of the countryside of Lourdes and even has its own grotto that looks like the one the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in 1858.

Now that’s all fine and good, but the article goes on to talk about people who revere this water as “holy” (it’s city water by the way) and there’s criticism about the difference between superstition and symbolism with the ritual but I find it fascinating. Personally, if someone feels comforted when they drink the water or use it, then fine – doesn’t mean that I have to jump on their bandwagon.

Kevin Childress 3

Kevin Childress 2
both photos above by Kevin Childress of the Interfaith Center of New York

We were there for about an hour just walking around and talking about our understanding of the site; since this is a form of Catholicism that I am familiar with I ended up getting asked a lot of questions. It’s funny because no one that I talked to criticized the actions of the believers at the site when in our article reading, “Everyday Miracles: The Study of Lived Religion,” many of Robert Orsi’s students were appalled by the superstition. I think, as teachers, we are better prepared to be more accepting of actions that may contradict our own beliefs.

Read more: Learning not Converting



The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Religious Worlds institute.  For detailed information about the institute, see

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