Home             |             Devotions             |             Issues             |             Links             |             Books / Gifts
Photo Album             |             Father John B. LeFebvro             |             Construction of Shrine
Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine
at the
Immaculate Conception Church

732 US 20
PO Box 218
New Lebanon, NY 12125
Parish Office
Tel: 518-794-7651

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
New Lebanon, New York

In a little town in southwestern France, thousands of Roman Catholics make a national pilgrimage each year to a grotto where there is a spring of healing water: It was by this spring l so say the believers, that the Virgin Mary revealed herself to a little peasant girl named Bemadette Soubrious in the year 1858. A statue of the Virgin stands on a rock projecting over the grotto, and the walls are covered with crutches of those who have come on them and have left cured. This little town in France is named Lourdes.

Just sixty-five years ago there came to the little New York town of New Lebanon a priest assigned to pastor the congregation of people gathered at the Church of the Immaculate Conception. His name was John B. LeFebvro, and he had been to Lourdes. Upon entering the beautiful Lebanon Valley, he was struck by the similarities between the two places. The mountains and springs and sky all seemed alike until he exclaimed one day, "This is is the Valley of Lourdes." It was this inspiration that led him to build the shrine that is officially called "Our Lady of Lourdes Giotto."

The good priest came to the area in 1928 and stayed just six years, until 1934, but during that time the newspapers of the day recorded that over one million people stopped to kneel and pray; at this shrine. It was dedicated July 7,1929, and in 1979 its .50th anniversary celebration was held.

The shrine was built in honor of the Virgin Mary, out Lady of Lourdes. The grotto contains five chambers and is 40' wide, 36' high, and 32' in depth. A real cave effect is produced as one draws near the opening, and at the extreme end of the grotto there is a statue representing the apparition of the Virgin to the little` Bernadette. The five chambers gradually lead to the niche of the apparition, and all chambers are constructed with stories selected for their natural color, producing a rainbow effect throughout the arches.

The present curch organization at the side of the grotto did not always rest at this location. It was originally built in the cemetery in Lebanon Springs, on the Old Mountain Road to Pittsfield. The cemetery, of course, is still there, but all that remains of the old church building are the concrete steps which-can still be climbed. Catholic masses were first held in New Lebanon in 1868 by visiting Priests from Coxsackie, many miles away. That year, it was not unusual to see whole families traveling on foot over the Old Mountain Road to Pittsfield to attend services and masses when none were available in the Valley. This reverent perseverance in overcoming obstacles and hardships is difficult to visualize in today's generation.

For the next six years, from 1869 to 1874, the baby organization in New Lebanon was a mission, attended to by a priest from Chatham named James J.

Springs was sold and moved to Stephentown where it now houses the St. Joseph's congregation'. The Rev. Dr. Moriarity was a man of strong character, a scholar and a leader. His administration gave new life to Catholicism throughout this countryside until 1874.

The first resident priest in New Lebanon was one John J. Brennan who was here from 1874 until 1880. The present priest, the Rev. Joseph Halloran, is the 25th resident priest in this one hundred "nineteen year span.

The shrine, built about 58 years after construction of the church, and built very close to the church, is somewhat dwarfed in size by the larger building, but it is this shrine that has been the unique feature. The original intention of Father LeFebvre, builder of the shrine, was to move the church building back about 200 feet away from the road, and had he stayed here, this probably would be the site of the building today, but his departure and the Great Depression brought an end to this dream.

You may enter this shrine at any time, for It is yours: There is no door, no key. There are no openings, no closings, no shutters against the weather of the Valley, no furnace to ease the winters storms.

Kneel in this sanctuary of faith, and you will rind comfort; for this house is insulated with love.

Do not look for reason in these New Lebanon stones; the mortar is faith alone. It built this shrine, and it built this church, and it knits the diocese to the human struggle against poverty; disease; ignorance, and fear, It is the same mortar that has held the great cathedrals from tumbling, and it binds Christians together throughout the world."

More than 9,000 people attended the dedication of the shrine in 1929. A feature of this first service was an apparent example of the power of faith to heal. John Maher; an aged New Lebanon resident, at that time laid before the statue a pair of crutches without which he had not been able to walk for eleven years. He then proceeded to walk to his automobile without aid.

A very old man knelt at the grotto one day. He arose painfully and swayed a little as he regained his feet and made his way slowly to the bench. On his face was a contented smile. Without introduction he said, "Once a month I come over from Pittsfield, Just-to-talk to the Virgin for a little while. The Madonna, she's been good to me. Very good to Tony. She bring me to this country, make a place for me, give me a job, wife, and kids. I appreciate." A few seconds later, a big car pulled up and Tony rapidly disappeared over Lebanon Mountain, a man who loved his America, and found peace and happiness by the side of the road, at this shrine of faith.

Source: The "Echo", 1993
"The Echo", an independent hometown paper of the Lebanon and Taconic valleys which was published continuously from March 5, 1940, to October 10, 1996.

Immaculate Conception Church and
Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine
732 US 20
PO Box 218
New Lebanon, NY 12125
Parish Office
Tel: 518-794-7651

Please Help!

This shrine is supported by the parishoners and donations from visitors. Please visit the shrine and help support it.