Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, Vallombrosa Center in Menlo Park has embarked on a project to renovate its Lourdes grotto and build around it a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes.

A retreat center visitor in 2018 had noticed the grotto, built in the 1950s after the Archdiocese acquired the property, in urgent need of repair and offered to donate funds and assistance in building a new one. His advocacy spurred the center into starting the renovation of the grotto and then re-envisioning the area surrounding it. 

Vallombrosa plans to add new lighting and landscaping to the grotto and build a fountain for St. Bernadette Soubirous, to whom Mary appeared at Lourdes. The area in front of the statue, on a corner of the property next to Church of the Nativity, will be paved and turned into a plaza for outdoor Mass. 

“We’re trying to make a welcoming space,” said David Leech, Vallombrosa’s marketing director. 

The center will also build a meditative spiritual works of mercy path leading to the shrine, which will complement the corporal works of mercy garden on the southern side of the property. 

The anonymous donor told Catholic San Francisco “My fondest and most cherished hope is that with the restoration of the grotto, the Blessed Mother will be honored as she should be and has been, and so increase her intercession for the retreat center and all who dwell in it.”

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.