St Mary's Grotto

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During the great depression of the 1920's and 1930's, Father Clayton from St Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Cleator issued an appeal in the national Catholic press, and generous support was received from around the country to provide employment for some of the parishioners.

To all Irish Parents, both at home and abroad, the educating of Children in the knowledge of their Holy Faith has ever been a most sacred duty. They know full well that if religion is not taught and safeguarded in our Schools, the souls of their little ones must suffer irrevocable loss. To quote His Eminence Cardinal Logue: "The great danger in this country is the perversion of the young through Godless Schools. The whole future of the Church depends upon the Education of the Children."

The School of St. Patrick, Cleator Moor, Cumberland, is in danger of being condemned unless certain improvements, demanded by the Board of Education are carried out. These improvements will incur so great an expense that without the support of those who were once members of this Parish the work will be well nigh impossible.

The Irishmen here are straining every nerve and making use of every means their ingenuity can devise to raise the necessary funds to defray the expense; but work during the past few years has been irregular and wages low, so that unaided they cannot accomplish that which they would wish.

We appeal, therefore, to you the former members of this Parish now in distant lands, to you who know so well how slender our resources are; we appeal to you for the sake of the Children now in those Schools where once you were trained in the practice and duties of your Holy Faith. We ask you to save these Schools, and so preserve to the Children of your friends and relatives those advantages which once were yours.

Prayers will be said daily in the Schools for all those who send Subscriptions.

The church bought land adjoining the church and asked for volunteers to help construct a replica of the Grotto at Lourdes. These volunteers were rewarded with vouchers for food and clothing.

The Grotto was constructed with stone from local quarries. It was opened on the 30th October 1927, and rapidly became a focus for pilgrimage from all parts of the diocese. The tradition of pilgrimage continues with a number of groups coming each year. In early September the diocesan pilgrimage brings several hundred people together.

The design of the Grotto has altered over the years. In 1927, the statue of Our Lady was central. In 1982 a statue of St. Bernadette was added and dedicated the late Christopher Hill. Fr. G. A. Dawson OSB, who served as Curate from 1926 until 1930.

The Grotto was dedicated by Cardinal Basil Hume in 1980.

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Little Ireland | Cleator Moor | Cumbria: St Mary's Grotto
St Mary's Grotto
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Little Ireland | Cleator Moor | Cumbria
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