Our Lady’s Grotto, which is situated in the Presbytery garden, has a fascinating tale behind it . . . .

.

In 1956, Rosalia Reaves was lying in  a hospital bed in her native Austria, suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis - a crippling disease of the bone joints. Though she was in pain, her faith sustained her and she promised that if Our Lord ever made her well again she would build Him a grotto.

.

By the early 1970's, Rosa had made quite a good recovery and had moved to England with her husband, Tommy, and had settled in St. Jude's Parish. Anxious to fulfil the promise she had made to the Lord, in 1976 she approached the Parish Priest, Fr. Tobin, who consented to a grotto to Our Lady being erected in the Presbytery garden.

.

Rosa tramped around the parish in all weathers to fund the project, and, apart from the help of a cement mixer, did all the work herself. She spent eight weeks building the grotto, using three large bags of lime, five bags of cement and a large quantity of sand. Then, having finished the building work, she planted seeds and bulbs in the surrounding flower beds that she had dug.

.

Above left: Rosa working on her grotto.   Right: Our Lady's grotto today.

.

However, it wasn't all plain sailing for Rosa, as she explained at the time in her broken English: "Through my strong faith the Lord has helped me to build this grotto. Though there has still been great pain, it has only come at night. In the daytime I have been strong enough to carry on with the building. I thank Our Lord that he has given me the health and strength to do the job for him. He has blessed me many, many times."

.

On the back of the grotto can still be seen Rosa's inscription: "AMDG 1976" - AMDG standing for the Latin phrase, "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" ("For The Greater Glory of God").

.

After her husband's death, Rosa returned to Austria, but often returned to Wigan to visit her friends and the grotto.

.

St. Jude's parishioners would love to know what became of her and would ask anyone with any information to let us know via our Guest Book or by e-mailing the Webmaster via the "Can You Help Us?" page.

 

 

StJude's Catholic Church : Grotto