Lourdes of Kretinga
Needless to say, the Lourdes of Kretinga is also related to the revelation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Bernadette. In 1933, in order to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary apparitions in Lourdes, in a picturesque valley, near Kretinga Church of the Lord’s Revelation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, next to the purling Pastauninkas Stream, another grotto of Lourdes was created. This idea came to the mind of Augustine Dirvelė, the Head of the Franciscan Friary. Father even managed to visit France several times in order to prepare for the construction of Kretinga Lourdes better.
The location for the Lourdes of Kretinga was not a random choice. There is an underground springlet flowing at the approaches of the grotto. People believe that this is no ordinary springlet, as its water can cure various diseases, ulcers or even restore lost eyesight. All you need to do is sincerely ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for mercy and have a sip. By the way, Father A. Dirvelė brought some water from the miraculous Lourdes stream in France and poured it into the springlet during the grotto’s consecration.
As there are no cavernous terrains surrounding Kretinga, the grotto was formed using fieldstones. The goal of its architects was to recreate the appearance and fortitude of a cave. This solution has helped to emphasise the fragility, lightness and lucidity of the sculptures inside. The construction is 7 metres high.
The sculptures of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Bernadette Soubirous one can admire inside were made in Lourdes, France. Even though their carcass is made out of cast iron (people say it took six men to carry each of them), they have a sense of fragility surrounding them.
The consecration ceremony was truly special. More than 25 thousand worshippers from various cities and towns of Lithuania joined the procession heading to Kretinga Lourdes. One of them was President Antanas Smetona, who decided to join the celebration.
After the grand celebration, difficult years of oppression followed. During the years of Nazi Germany occupation, the sacred place was ravaged. It was not spared when the communist authorities came into power as well. Nevertheless, at the end of the last century, people of Kretinga unearthed the valley and their own Lourdes, fixed and restored the place by cleaning the Pastauninkas Stream, constructing pathways in the valley and returning the safely hidden sculptures right where they belonged. In 1989, the Lourdes of Kretinga was consecrated once again.
Nowadays, the Lourdes of Kretinga is one of the most important symbols of the Town, frequently visited by guests from various regions of the country. The grotto marks the place where Christmas, Easter, Whit Sunday mysteries, the feasts of St. Anthony and Porziuncola Indulgence and other events are organized. This place is a meeting point for town guests and people of different confessions and beliefs. This extraordinary location has always welcomed and shall always welcome all, who long for peace.