About Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine

The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes originated on the Eve of World War II when the pastor of St. Anthony’s, Father Anthony Sylla OMI, summoned his parishioners that evening asking them to haul their field stones so that a grotto could be built. He truly felt that their was a need to pray for peace in this world and an appropriate location was necessary. Also being an architect, he designed it to be a replica of The Grotto of Lourdes in France. A small hill west of the church was chosen and thus the construction began.

People enjoy this place by taking part in an annual pilgrimage, August 14 & 15. Secondly, an annual Remembrance Day Service takes place. Every Good Friday, many communities gather to do The Stations of the Cross. Almost every year several weddings take place, and in general, many families come to privately pray at the grotto, often lighting candles and staying.

What do you see in this space? How do people in the community enjoy it?:

  • People enjoy this place by taking part in an annual pilgrimage, August 14 & 15
  • Participating in annual Remembrance Day Service
  • Good Friday gathering to do The Stations of the Cross
  • Popular wedding location
  • Many families come to privately pray at the grotto, often lighting candles and staying
  • The Grotto of Lourdes in France. A small hill west of the church was chosen and thus the construction began
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine is a replica of The Grotto of Lourdes in France
  • Many have come from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas and many other locations to see this attraction

Events and Festivals:

  • Annual Pilgrimage- August 14 & 15
  • Annual Mass for the Unborn – first Sunday following the annual pilgrimage
  • Remembrance Day Service – November 11
  • Stations of the Cross – Good Friday and August 15
  • Easter Egg Hunt  for the children on Easter Sunday

Economic and Retail Activities:

  • The space has no shops or markets, therefore, no retail activities

Historic or Heritage Features:

  • The grotto is built as a replica of the grotto of Lourdes in France where many miracles occurred
  • On August 14 & 15, The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first pilgrimage was made with 2000 in attendance
  • This year marked the 75th Anniversary of the pilgrimage as these dates have remained annually for the past 75 years
  • There are two  large angel statues placed near the entrance that are dedicated to the war veterans that never returned fighting for freedom for our country. The other angel statue is dedicated to the parishioners who built the grotto

Memorable or Unique Characteristic(s):

  • A very unique situation was when a couple from the Philippines were unable to conceive and had given up hope, came to pray along with many friends begging for the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede and answer their prayers. They prayed for a few hours at the Shrine, returning on several occasions. Soon, she was pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl! They have given her the title of “A Miracle Baby”. They’ve appeared on TV with their testimony and their baby

Development:

  • A major development took place in 2010-2012 when through the generosity of a family, came forward to ask permission to have the statues and entire grotto restored
  • A major restoration took place as many of the statues had deteriorated. Statues were redone completely with the parishioners doing the entire restoration and a company was hired to redo the entire grotto
  • New concrete was poured for walkways to ensure the safety of visitors
  • New sod was brought in and trees were planted to replace the many that had died
  • A road sign was added to invite travellers to come visit
  • The newest addition is a mural on the outside of the parish hall which faces the Shrine and depicts “The Life of Mary” as well as “The Ten Commandments”. The donors felt that because this is a Marian Shrine, there should be an explanation of why

Faits rapides

Additional Comments:

It has been given the title of one of the “Most Beautiful Shrines in Canada.“ Recently, a CTV Hometown tour came to Rama. The cameraman who had been to Rome and Israel could not believe how well it was maintained and up kept, stated” I’ve seen many grottos, but this one is the most beautiful.”

As an added note, the baby that St. Gianna sacrificed her life for, is presently working on a trip to Canada in the hopes of coming to Rama to see this beautiful statue of her St. Mother which would be the 5th Anniversary of the statue’s arrival to St. Anthony’s. We sincerely hope that this plan will materialize as she also is a doctor like her mother was and she has been giving many talks about her St. Mother throughout the world, thus has a very busy schedule!!

More can be viewed on the internet by googling “Rama Pilgrimage”

Submitted by: Mary Kowalyshyn

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