Wednesday, July 17, 2013

GROTTO ON BAYOU LAFOURCHE


How long the grotto in honor of Our Lady has been in place on the bank of Bayou Lafourche in Thibodaux, I have no idea, but, only the other day, when I picked my grandson up from day camp, did I first take note.  The grotto is on the main road through town, which makes it quite visible, and I wonder how I could have missed seeing it for however long it's been there.


The grotto stands next to a peaceful scene of Bayou Lafourche, which is a tributary of the Mississippi River. 


The opening to the left of the statue of Mary curves through to the side of the grotto, to what purpose I can't say.

The top photo shows the corner of the bench where visitors can sit and pray, or meditate, or simply rest a while.

Now that I've discovered the structure, I'd like to know something about when it was constructed and by whom.  I Googled, but I found nothing. 


The photo to the right shows the side opening of the grotto.  As you see from the green moss or lichen (or whatever) growing on the stones, the structure has been there a while.

To the right of the grotto is a paved area large enough to park two cars.  The entire concept is well-planned and well-constructed.  Now that I've discovered the grotto, I want to know more.

UPDATE:
Grotto

Our Lady stands
In the small grotto
Built by unknown hands
On the bank of the bayou
And prays in peaceful repose

(June Butler - 7/17/2013)

18 comments:

David said...

I remember living, many moons ago, in rural northeastern Illinois. There happened to be a large population of Catholics in several of the small farming towns nearby.

The favorite form of grotto seemed to be an old-fashioned bathtub, buried vertically in the front yard about halfway in the ground, painted sky blue on the inside, with a statue of the Virgin underneath :)

it's margaret said...

And where does the path lead? To the lake? To a garden? 'round in a circle?

Grandmère Mimi said...

David, we have folk-art bathtub grottos with statues of the Virgin Mary in front of homes here, too. Sometimes it's just the statue without the grotto.

Grandmère Mimi said...

margaret, the path goes around to the front of the grotto. Here's what I'm thinking: sit on the bench; pray or meditate or rest on the bench; walk through the grotto back to where you began...or something. :-)

Grandmère Mimi said...

margaret, the path leads only around to the front of the grotto where you came from. Maybe there is a good reason for the short journey that I can't fathom.

Grandmère Mimi said...

I thought I'd lost my original comment, and I tried to reproduce it, but I see I said something different the second time around. Oh well...

David said...

"Folk-art," yeah - that was the term I was looking for ;) (not trying to be a snob or anything, it just made me smile)

Grandmère Mimi said...

Once when we were vacationing in the Smokey Mountains, we stopped at various roadside stands and flea markets, and Grandpère kept talking about how much he liked looking at folkalt. My mother and I were looking at each other and wondering what on earth he was talking about. Finally, I asked, "What is folkalt?" GP said, "Did I say that? I meant folk-art." Oh.

it's margaret said...

kinda like walking through the grotto back to where you began... or something!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Yes. I'm going back to the grotto one day to sit a while when I'm alone and the weather is not so hot.

JCF said...

Mimi, do you happen to know the origin of the Roman Catholic "Grotto" (with the BVM)?

I've visited several, and they're always RC (I would think they would seem pretty alien to anyone NOT an RC?)

My hunch tells me that they're a sort of syncretistic (w/ European paganism) thang? As in the grotto formerly was where spirits or sprites would show up? Or someplace one would sacrifice a goat? [OCICBW]

[FWIW, this cradle Episcopalian (from California) had heard the term in connection w/ a variety of SEAFOOD RESTAURANTS, before I'd ever heard of it in connection to religion! ;-p]

JCF said...

As, for example: http://www.fishermensgrotto.com/

it's margaret said...

exactly! --but for some, that place CAN BE a religious experience!

Grandmère Mimi said...

JCF, a grotto is a cave, natural or artificial. Throughout history, grottos (from French "grotte" or Italian "grotto") were used for many different purposes.

Bonnie said...

Intriguing. It looks like there are at least 8 Catholic Churches in Thibodaux. Maybe they pooled their resources and built the charming little Grotto.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Bonnie, my thought is that a private individual or a group that emphasizes devotion to Mary had the grotto constructed. Tomorrow I will call the Tourist Commission to see if they have information.

JCF said...

But I'm speaking of the specifically devotional context, w/ a statue of the BVM in it (I'm guessing the practice picked up steam after the Apparitions in Lourdes?)

At any rate, it is one of those things that, for someone not RC (or familiar w/ RC devotions) seems kind of out-of-the-blue (much more so than life-size Stations of the Cross, or other statuary on/in church ground). A cave: why a cave?

Grandmère Mimi said...

JCF, I don't know. Maybe the practice of putting Mary statues in grottos began after the apparitions at Lourdes.