Hidden Atherton

Post image for Newly restored and relocated Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes debuts at Sacred Heart Schools

Earlier this month there was a rededication ceremony of Our Lady of Lourdes statue/grotto that had been “hidden” away on the Sacred Heart School upper campus for some time. SHS alum Laura Pitchford provided InMenlo with some background:

“The original Virgin (she is the same but with a facelift!) was located outside of the Siegal Building which was torn down to make room for a new building. The Grotto, which was dedicated by alums in the late 1800s, needed to be moved. The staff took it apart rock by rock and reassembled it in the current location.

“[Head of school] Rich Dioli thought the quickest way to complete the project was to copy the grotto at Notre Dame in South Bend. He then called upon two Notre Dame/SHS families to help with fundraising.”

At a visit to the Grotto last week, Sister Nancy Morris, who Laura profiled on the occasion of her 90th birthday last year, filled in some historical details, explaining that the Folger family gave Sacred Heart the statue in 1903. “It was really hidden on a part of campus that wasn’t developed at the time,” she said. “We referred to it as the Lourdes forest.

“When I was head of school — and Sacred Heart was all girls — we’d parade over there on her feast day each year, the girls in white veils, all leaving flowers behind. Now that the school is co-ed, that kind of thing probably can’t happen. Alas, at a time when there is so little reverence in the world.”

The Lourdes Grotto at Sacred Heart is one of many scattered around the United States and the world. Lourdes, France, rose to prominence in 1858 when the peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous, who was later canonized, claimed to see Marian apparitions. The city with the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes became one of the world’s most important sites of pilgrimage and religious tourism. There people who are ill are reputed to be miraculously healed by Lourdes water.

“Lourdes is perhaps the most famous holy site in the world,” said Sister Morris. “There are hundreds of crutches, etc. stacked near the grotto, symbols of cures. The church is beautiful, and the waters of Lourdes are distributed in small bottles to those who need them (I have one).”

Photos Able Sanchez, Golden Images

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It’s olive harvest time at Sacred Heart Schools

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Last week pumpkins got pushed to the side, so to speak, when students at Sacred Heart’s lower and upper schools harvested olives from the 50-tree, 100-year-old grove along Elena Avenue in Atherton. In the early part of last century, the Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ), who ran the school, tended to the trees and […]

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Hidden streets of Menlo Park: Croner Avenue

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Over the past 100 years, there are a few special properties in Atherton that have maintained their prominence. The estate located at 120 Selby Lane is one. Originally part of a 16+ acre parcel, this estate was home to Matthew A. Harris, member of the first Atherton city council, subsequent Mayor of Atherton and president […]

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Bear Gulch Reservoir hides in plain sight in Atherton, providing water for local residents

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Get off the beaten path a bit, and you’re apt to discover something hiding in plain sight, something actually pretty big. Case in point, the 166 million gallon (at capacity) Bear Gulch Reservoir in Atherton, a body of water much more visible on Google Earth than to area residents. We paid the Reservoir a visit […]

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Barnyard in Atherton? Yes, hiding in plain sight at Sacred Heart Schools

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Collecting eggs. Milking goats. Feeding chickens, rabbits and ducks. It all happens after every school day on the campus of Sacred Heart Schools. “For lower and middle school students, it’s an enrichment program,” explained Dr. Stewart Slafter, who wears the multiple hats of farm manager and geography/history/agriculture teacher. (He also tends the barnyard on weekends […]

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10 things to be thankful for in Menlo and Atherton

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Do you know where Atherton’s secret garden is?

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There’s a secret garden in Atherton — but just how many residents are in on the secret,  we’re not sure. Those who know about the garden, treasure it. The garden  is attached to the Atherton Library. It was “reinvigorated” some years ago by Joan Sanders and is now lovingly tended by three members of the Friends […]

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