Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Grotto of Maria Lourdes

Click on image titles for larger views.
Institution Name: Belmont Abbey College
Original/Historic Place Name: Grotto of Maria Lourdes
Location on Campus: behind and to the side of Monastery
Date(s) of Construction:
1891original construction
Type of Place: Landscape site
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
1891-present (2006)outdoor space
1891-present (2006)memorial site (a pilgrimage shrine)

In 1890, one of the young monks at Belmont Abbey contracted typhoid fever. This priest, Father Francis Meyer, O.S.B., neared death as his physicians despaired of a cure. The Monastery's Abbot, Leo Haid, was distraught at the infirmity, and the Prior, Father Felix Hintemeyer, organized daily prayers for Meyer's recovery.

Hintemeyer determined that the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her role as patroness of the Abbey, should be sought. In conjunction with his prayers, Father Felix resolved that, should Francis Meyer's health return, a Grotto would be built in honor of Our Lady. This would be an act of thanksgiving and of witness to the monks' confidence in the vitality of prayer.

The recovery of Father Francis was as prompt as it was inspiring. Construction of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes began the next spring. As a special privilege granted by the Holy See, the liturgical feasts of both Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Walburga have special status in the Abbey. In 1953, the Grotto was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Belmont Abbey Historic District. The statues of Our Lady and Saint Walburga were restored that same year. Subsequently, a trail marked by the Stations of the Cross was added. The area was further enhanced by a path and bridge of faux bricks, and by a gazebo dedicated in honor of the seventh abbot of Belmont, Oscar C. Burnett, O.S.B.


Alexander, Frances P., and Richard L. Mattson. Belmont Abbey Historic District [including Belmont Abbey College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1993.

Abbey Basilica of Maryhelp. Brochure. Belmont, NC: Southern Benedictine Society of North Carolina, 1999.

Baumstein, Paschal. The Legacy of Felix Hintemeyer. Booklet. Belmont, NC: Goodwill Publishers, 2000.

Baumstein, Paschal, Beth Bargar, and Debra G. Estes. A Walking Tour of Historic Belmont Abbey. Booklet. Belmont, NC: Belmont Abbey College, 1997.

The Grotto and Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. Brochure. Belmont, NC: Southern Benedictine Soceity of North Carolina, 2001.

Hamilton, Boniface. "Deepening Union: A Benedictine Commitment." Typescript. St. Joseph, MN: American Benedictine Academy, [2002?].


Contact us / About Site / About CIC
© 2006
Council of Independent Colleges
Washington, DC
All rights reserved
Last update: November 2006