“There was a statue of St. Francis in that garden, placed above a marble filled bird bath. I remember my child-hands dipping into the bath as I gazed at that statue, breathing in the Catholic Faith.”*
A traditional Catholic grotto, or outdoor shrine, is a visual reminder of the beautiful Truths of the Catholic Faith. Such shrines might be as simple as setting a statue of Our Lady by the front door, or as elaborate as what is planned by friends of ours in New Jersey, see picture (above): a formal outdoor grotto. Our friends broke ground on their project this week, and have obtained a beautiful statue of Our Lady to adorn it. I will post further pictures as they proceed.
The power and influence of such outdoor grottoes and shrines cannot be underestimated. In traditional Catholic countries you often see roadside shrines scattered across the countryside, or in the city. They are everywhere, and often startle a person from the United States who is unaccustomed to seeing such religious displays in public places. They are silent witnesses to the Faith of others, yet speak to the heart in incalculable ways.
The other night, I noticed that the U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, in a short speech introducing himself to the nation, announced that he was a Catholic; had been an altar boy, and had even brought his childhood parish priest to the nomination announcement. Most of us will never have such an opportunity to announce to the world that we are Catholic, as did this man; however, by building outdoor shrines and grottoes, we are publicly declaring our Faith, which does have an impact on the world, especially on children.
Have a beautiful day.
*Snippets from a Catholic Childhood