A religious monument that has stood for more than a century in St Malo has been designated a shrine by the Office of the Saint Boniface Archdiocese.
In a July 10 letter, Archbishop Albert LeGatt confirmed the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in St Malo has been officially established as a diocesan shrine.
The archdiocese will now utilize the grotto for religious pilgrimages, including their annual pilgrimage that takes place in mid-August, as well as for other religious services and activities.
"This formal establishment of a Diocesan Shrine and Diocesan Pilgrimage allows and invites a much wider promotion of this yearly occasion across the width and breadth of our Diocese," LeGatt wrote in the letter.
"I invite all pastors and parish life directors to collaborate with the parish of St. Malo in drawing their parishioners to visit the shrine and participate in the pilgrimage."
LeGatt also states that parishes and spiritual groups can organize their own pilgrimages to the grotto for events such as retreat days, conferences, or other celebrations.
"These are but some suggestions as to the many ways to help all the faithful know of this Shrine and pilgrimage, and so consider participating once or perhaps even repeatedly," LeGatt said.
The Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes was first constructed in the early 1900s, according to St Malo Parish Pastor Father Dominic La Fleur. He said it has hosted religious pilgrimages for decades.
"It’s a place of pilgrimage that the first priests here put together, and it’s basically a replica of a place of pilgrimage in Lourdes, France," La Fleur said.
The grotto includes a small chapel, a number of religious symbols, and an outdoor area with pews where services can be held.
La Fleur said he expects more and more people to come to the grotto now that it has been named a shrine.
"This will make a big difference because it’s a place where people will know they can come for a spiritual renewal, so they can expect to come here to a sacred spot that has been blessed," La Fleur said.
"It also brings people closer to God because those who can’t go to the Holy Land can come here, because for God there is no distance."
The Saint Boniface Archdiocese said the St. Malo Parish will continue to be responsible for the usage and future development of the shrine and its grounds, the organization of the annual pilgrimage, and all costs and liabilities associated with the shrine and pilgrimage.