Local church honoring Marian Grotto Prayer Garden

On Palm Sunday, St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Long Beach is paying tribute to its Marian Grotto Prayer Garden with the unveiling of a historical marker.

Nestled peacefully near shade trees and surrounded by blooming flowers sits the Marian Grotto at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach.

Paula Spears, project coordinator of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, describes the significance of the grotto in the Catholic faith. “When Jesus died on the cross, he said son this is your mother and woman take care of your son. He actually gave us Blessed Mother, his mother as our own mother. In about 1855 Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette and she was in a cave setting. And so, grottos are usually of rock and cave so this kind of emulates that setting and so that’s why we have it here.”

The St. Vincent de Paul Society President Michael Barry says the society has been restoring the grotto and the Blessed Virgin Mary Statue that sits at its center, preparing for the April 10th unveiling of a historical marker at the site. “We’ve more or less tried to bring it back to its original grandeur. We cut the trees back. We’ve planted new plants there. We’ve got the statue that normally sits here that’s being renovated. The historical marker will tell everybody the story of the grotto- how it was started, who started it. All the people involved in rebuilding it.”

The grotto has been moved to a new location twice since its construction. Since settling in its current location, Spears says the grotto has provided great comfort and peace to all who visit. “We have some beautiful benches out here where people can just come sit and meditate. I know there have been times when people are downtrodden and this is where they come and they get solitude and they’re able to pray. It’s just a reverent, holy sacred site.”

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