In 1858, Our Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France asking that a church be built there so people can come to seek her intercession.  Today the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, a replica of the grotto in France, has stood for the past century in the heart of Albany to serve in the same mission.

Built as the cornerstone of the Vincentian Institute, this Grotto was a flourishing place of Catholic worship, celebrating the Sacraments for the students who attended, as well as the nearby community.  Although the VI high school closed in 1977, thousands of VI alumni still have a special place in their hearts for the Grotto.

Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton, whose canonization process has begun, often prayed and asked for Our Blessed Mother’s aid here during the start of his global campaign to promote the Family Rosary in the mid-1940s.  Through Our Lady’s intersession, he received the resources he needed to spread the Rosary devotion across the country and eventually, worldwide.

For decades, this treasure of exceptional sacred art and architecture has remained hidden away, unable to serve the Catholic faithful as it was designed to.  By the grace of God, many of the Grotto’s artistic gems are capable of being saved and preserved for future generations, but we cannot afford to delay.

In September of 1915 an agreement was made for Mr. and Mrs. James Charles Farrell to generously contribute the land for and $107,000 towards constructing a St Vincent de Paul parish school, as well as the total cost of $104,500 for a convent which would house the order who would teach the students.  Father William Charles ensured a chapel was included in the expenses for the school and James C. Farrell gave the construction of this Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel -later known as “the Grotto- his closest personal attention.  It was their desire that “the children of St Vincent amidst ideal surroundings should have their school workshop ever blessed by the living presence of the carpenter’s Son.”

Tyrrell, William G. A Century of Spiritual Service: Church of Saint Vincent de Paul. Albany: Church of St Vincent de Paul, 1985. Print.

Picture taken by Michael Joyce