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Grotto to close for five days during spring break

Observer Staff Report | Thursday, March 3, 2011

A long-range maintenance plan will force the closure of The Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes during spring break, according to a University press release.

The University announced Wednesday that the Grotto would be closed at 8 a.m. on March 14 and would reopen at 3 p.m. March 18. During the closing, digital scanning technology will create a model of the Grotto.

“The model will be used to understand and document for historical purposes how the Grotto was built and for tracking future maintenance and repairs, specifically its periodic cleaning and tuck-pointing,” the press release stated.

The Grotto sustained damage from a July 26 fire, according to the press release. At the time, cleanup involved removing soot from the shrine, cleaning melted wax from the floor, repairing damaged candle racks and inspecting the structure for safety.

Candles will be available for lighting and a nightly rosary will still be held while the Grotto is closed. Both will be outside the kneeling rail.

The Grotto, constructed in 1896, is a one-seventh scale replica of a famed French shrine where in 1858 the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette on 18 separate occasions.