There is a legend that Dubois, on one of his pastoral journeys, was attracted by a light on the mountain and found this blessed spot, one of the loveliest in the world, and there erected a rude cross in 1808.
Those of a more practical mind may surmise that Father Dubois was seeking the source of the stream which flowed out of the ravine into the valley below. In any event, John Dubois found the Grotto site, a dell of breath-taking beauty. It is worth a trip from the other side of the world just to see the natural beauty of the spot.
Just what did John Dubois find on his day of discovery? He climbed a steep ascent through a rocky ravine along a tumbling torrent, which was much broader and more unruly than at present. About 500 yards above the present Mount St. Mary's University Main Campus, the priest came upon a lovely clearing, a masterpiece of natural beauty.
Sharply sloping hills from almost every side formed a natural amphitheater where nature "displayed itself in all its wild and picturesque beauty." In the center of the clearing, where now the Corpus Christi Chapel stands, Father Dubois saw a mound, shaded by the branches of an ancient oak. Such huge oak trees are seen even to this day on the mountain. With the passing of time, the earth had been washed out from beneath the great, gnarled roots of the oak. A recess or grotto was thus formed underneath the great trunk and the thick roots which overhung the bed of the stream.
In the summertime when the stream was low, one could enter the grotto and find there a rustic room. Here John Dubois erected his cross, the symbol of the holy work he was undertaking. This was the original Grotto.