The statues in the grotto were vandalized Pentecost weekend 2011. They were replaced in August 2013. A friend made a short video of the blessing of the new statues on the Feast of the Assumption 2013.
Our grotto is a pretty good reminder of the grotto at Lourdes in the South West of France where Mary appeared to Bernadette in 1858 and which is now one of the Catholic Church’s major pilgrim centres. Why is our grotto such a good reproduction? Well, because it is built into the natural rock of the hillside and the river runs in front of it in the right direction, just like the Gave in Lourdes. It is a place to pray to the Mother of God, to ask her intercession for your needs, above all to ask her to show you the way to her Son, Jesus. The Lourdes Grotto at Calvary Abbey was erected in 1968.
The presence of such a shrine of Our Lady on the monastery grounds is a link with the special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Cistercian Order since its beginnings in the 12th century. If you assist at any of the hours of prayer with the monks in their chapel when you come to visit the grotto you will hear them sing an antiphon in honour of Mary at the end of each service; sung in the original Latin and plainchant some of these are texts that were already in use in the Christmas Office at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome in the 5th century.
O marvellous exchange! The Creator of the human race has taken on a living human body. He was born of a virgin, without man’s intervention, and shared with us his divinity.
We take refuge in your protection, O holy Mother of God; do not ignore our prayers in our need, but deliver us from all dangers, glorious and blessed, ever-Virgin.
In the bush which Moses saw burning but unconsumed we see a sign of your wonderfully preserved virginity; intercede for us, O Mother of God.
A shoot came forth from Jesse, a star arose from Jacob, the Virgin gave birth to the Saviour: we praise you, Lord, our God.
See Mary has born us a Saviour, whom John saw and cried out: This is the Lamb of God, he who takes away the sins of the world.
At the end of Compline, the singing of the great antiphon, Salve Regina, is universal in all Cistercian monasteries and has been since their beginning in 1098. At Calvary Abbey, the Salve Regina is sung sometimes in Latin, sometimes in French. So that our day of prayer ends, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis, Virgo Maria.