On Wednesday, August 15th Catholics from all over Northeastern United States and Canada will converge on one of the hidden jewels of Detroit; a 131 year old replica of the miraculous Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. In 1858, a peasant girl by the name of Bernadette of Soubirous claimed to see a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes, France. Shortly after, many healings were reported at the crude grotto where Bernadette’s vision took place. Since then a magnificent shrine has been built in Lourdes, France at the site of the apparitions and millions of pilgrims from all over the world have visited it seeking healings and conversion.
Like at the Lourdes Shrine in France, the faith and devotion of pilgrims to the Detroit replica of the Lourdes Shrine at Assumption Grotto Catholic Church are often rewarded by God with conversions and cures. People who are in their seventies and eighties today remember seeing as children all the crutches and braces piled up at the shrine at Assumption Grotto Church. Some of these are now housed in a reliquary in the shrine gift shop.
The Lourdes Shrine at Assumption Grotto is the oldest outdoor Marian shrine in Michigan and was formally dedicated on May 29, 1881. One year later, Pope Leo XIII signed a proclamation authorizing the Detroit shrine for devotions and granted partial and plenary indulgences for all who visited the shrine at Assumption Grotto Church and prayed for the propagation of the faith. This privilege remains.
Much of the beauty of the Detroit shrine is in its makeup of imported limestone. Huge boulders around the shrine and in the cemetery were carried in by farmers from all parts of Michigan. Some of the stones and much of the limestone are inscribed with names and dedications that today provide a treasure of local history. In front of the shrine is a fountain with statues depicting Saint Bernadette of Soubirous’ vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church is the second oldest church in Detroit and is more commonly known as Assumption Grotto Church because of the Lourdes Shrine. The church is designated as a Michigan State Historic Site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Wednesday, August 15th is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics. It is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and historic Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit at Seymour and Gratiot Avenue will be celebrating the feast from early morning into the evening.
One of the high points of the day is a spectacular candlelight procession along Gratiot and into the cemetery to the Lourdes Shrine after the 7 p.m. Mass. As in Lourdes, France, the faithful processing will be singing hymns to the Blessed Mother and many religious groups will be present carrying banners and flags representing their affiliations. A beautiful statue of Our Lady of Lourdes held high aloft on a special platform carried by men of the parish will lead the long procession of priests, religious and the faithful to the miraculous Detroit shrine.
The schedule of events for the August 15th celebration also includes Masses at 6:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., and Noon. A healing service with the blessing of the sick will take place at 3 p.m. in the shrine. There is safe and secure parking at Assumption Grotto Church, and special attention will be given to the sick and handicap. A shuttle bus will also be available throughout the day and evening for additional parking at St. Veronica’s Catholic Church in Eastpointe. St. Veronica’s is located just 2 miles North of Assumption Grotto and one block East of Gratiot Avenue on Toepfer Drive.
Other activities include the blessing of Miraculous Medals and of herbs. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the rosary, praying the Stations of the Cross and confessions will be taking place at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. There will be a consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary at 5 p.m. followed by a professional organ recital until 6 p.m.
A pasta dinner will be available for purchase between 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., as well as hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, pop, water and ice cream throughout the day.
Vendors will also be offering religious items for sale including candles for the evening procession.
The staff of Opus Bono will be part of the volunteers at Assumption Grotto all day on Wednesday, August 15th. For more information visit the website or call the rectory at (313) 371-0762.
Assumption Grotto Catholic Church is at 13770 Gratiot Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48205.