Growing up, I heard endless stories of devotees going up the steps of the Lourdes grotto in Bulacan during the holy week. The elders often talked about how the sick was miraculously healed by the grotto’s flowing water, and how people from all walks of life would offer flowers, light candles and pray the rosary seeking fulfilment of their special intensions.
The grotto in Bulacan is the exact replica of the famous Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France a renowned pilgrimage destination, where the sick are miraculously healed. In 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared 18 times to St. Bernadette in Lourdes. To this day millions of Catholics from all over the world flock to see the statue, as well as drink or bathe in its healing waters.
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Bulacan is located at Tungkong-Mangga Road, San Jose del Monte. It was built by Anita Guidote-Guanzon in 1961, shortly after she was miraculously cured from cancer after her trip to the famous healing shrine in France. She lived for 30 more years after her recovery. From then on she dedicated her life to the blessed mother and event converted her 20-hectare farm to a public shrine, so that other people can experience the miracle of our Lady of Lourdes.
To this day, more than 50 years after it opened, the Lourdes Grotto in Bulacan continue to attract millions of devotees praying for recovery. The place is ten times crowded especially during the holy week. The place is open to the public it does not charge an entrance fee and masses are regularly celebrated at the basilica.
Just like the renowned shrine in France, healing water flows from the spring beside the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. The place has kneelers for those who wish pray. It’s the perfect way to teach our children about the power prayers, and how it can miraculously heal whatever problem we may have.
Those who wish to do the stations of cross, can say their prayers as they go up Calvary Hill, where all 14 stations are located. It has a total of 300 life-size statues signifying every memorable event in the passion and death of our Lord. Along with the prayers, we can share the story with our kids, complete with the actual statues of the Bible characters.
Marian devotees can also relish every mystery when they pray the rosary by standing in front of the big concrete beads at the Rosary Hill.
Because of its popularity it has not been spared from several issues. But amid all the controversies devotees continue to honor Our Lady of Lourdes in Bulacan. Last holy week the site hosted over a million visitors.
The site is open all year round, for those who wish to pray, walk around the garden or eat meals at the picnic area.