Florida, USA (Tuesday, September 12, 2017, Gaudium Press) As Hurricane Irma was bearing down closer to Florida, residents who had not evacuated from Key West, did what many of them have done before with predicted hurricanes. They gathered to pray at the grotto dedicated to hurricane protection.
Days after the hurricane’s path was announced, people began streaming to the outdoor stone grotto at all hours, leaving notes, lighting candles and simply quietly praying.
The grotto, named Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine, on the grounds of the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea, has been a source of spiritual refuge against storms since it was dedicated in 1922 for that purpose. It was spearheaded by Sister Louise Gabriel, a Sister of Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, who wanted the devotional spot at the parish to protect the island from destructive hurricanes.