VIERA | Approaching Our Lady of Lourdes grotto, one can hear pilgrims murmuring in wonder, “magnificent,” “gorgeous,” “inspiring.” Those words fall short for the new grotto at St. John the Evangelist Parish. The grotto is embraced by breathtaking Stations of the Cross, the massive stations bring to life Christ’s Via Dolorosa and the fulfillment of the Virgin Mary’s fiat.
Understanding his congregation’s “sorrows, sickness, pains, sufferings, and grief,” Father John Britto was determined to build an “oasis of prayer and peace.” He prays the grotto and stations help “bring the human spirit consolation.”
“I grew up in a parish that had a natural hillside grotto surrounded by the Stations of the Cross,” said Father Britto. “And I had the opportunity to visit Lourdes (France, where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette) a few times and at my first visit I prayed to Our Lady for some light regarding my vocation to priesthood. It is there that I had some clarity. Hence, the grotto is in gratitude to Our Lady whose mission is always to lead us to her Son.”
When he arrived in Viera, Father Britto realized the parish’s master plan was a perfect fit for God’s inspired plan. Seeing he had the space, the design was enlarged to one acre and includes “a beautiful, serene and prayerful ambience where we can meditate on the love God has for us in the Passion of Christ and the ultimate good news of the Resurrection,” he said. “Our people also have an undying devotion to our Mother. May our Mother envelop us with her maternal love.”
“In the image of the Virgin, you have given your Church the vision of the glory to come,” prayed Bishop John Noonan before the grotto, April 22. “Bless this image of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, contained within this grotto. May those who present themselves in prayer look to her as a model of holiness. May they search for peace, strive for justice, realize your love as they pursue their journey through life, toward their heavenly Savior.”
Please join us in prayer at the grotto!
St. John the Evangelist Parish
5655 Stadium Parkway
Viera, FL 32940
Click here to watch the blessing of the grotto.
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, April 27, 2023