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Hurricane Sandy's Destruction at the Grotto Left Some Unexpected Blessings

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Emmitsburg, Maryland - The National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes on the 

Mount campus lost over a dozen storied trees due to the high winds and heavy rains brought on by Hurricane Sandy but officials at the Grotto say they are still blessed because many of the key statues in the path of falling trees were spared - sometimes by just inches.

“When I came up to the Grotto on Tuesday to see if we had experienced damage, I was amazed. From a distance these statues looked like they were destroyed and as I got closer to see, all were intact, I just thought, Wow," said Grotto Director William Tronolone. 

Most of the damage occurred along the walking paths in the Grotto.  The stone encasement of a tile mosaic scene depicting the Descent of the Holy Spirit in the Rosary walk received a direct hit from a fallen tree, but the tile mosaic lay unharmed, thrown a couple feet behind the damaged encasement.

A 6-foot statue of St. Francis of Assisi stood in the path of 5 falling trees. It was knocked from his foundation, yet the actual statue remained unharmed while its pedestal was crushed.

A 150-foot redwood snapped at its base and was lined up for a crushing blow to one of the Grotto’s main attractions, the pool with a statue of the Blessed Mother in the center. The tree now lays over the gnarled iron gates surrounding the pool, its trunk just inches from the statue’s base and its limbs are crushed around the unharmed, still-standing statue.

Just below the Grotto’s main office, a 100-year-old-plus tree uprooted and crashed down the side of the mountain.  Its trunk landed a couple feet from the statue depicting St. Joseph,  but its aged thick limbs surround the statue, left untouched. 

How could these statues and images at the Grotto survive these close calls? “Only a blessing from above could have kept these massive trees from destroying these beautiful symbols of our Catholic Faith at the Grotto. It really is unbelievable,” said Tronolone. “We have countless stories of special

things and blessings that happen here at the Grotto and the damage we escaped from Hurricane Sandy is just another one.”

The Grotto will be closed until early December due to construction of the new Visitor Center.  For more information please visit: National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes.

16300 Old Emmitsburg Road | Emmitsburg, MD 21727
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