The Kretinga Lourdes
Coordinates: 55.892666 21.243494
Object address: J. Pabrėžos street, Kretinga, Lithuania
Municipality: Kretinga district
The Kretinga Lourdes is located at J. Pabrėžos st., in the valley between the Catholic Church and the Mansion of St. Anthony of Padua.
In 1933, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the St. Virgin Mary’s (the guardian of the Franciscan order) revelation at the Lourdes, the Franciscan friars organised the building a structure that is equivalent to the Lourdes Grotto, which can be found in a holy location in France. Augustinas Dirvelė, the head of the monastery, was especially invested in the construction works. For this reason, he visited the French Lourdes twice.
The valley next to the Pastauninkas River became the location for the grotto. Unlike the one in France, the Kretinga Lourdes Grotto is not built in a natural cave, but rather in an artificial stone one. The grotto was built inside the slope of a hill. The Franciscan friars demolished an old stonework brewery and used its stone to build the Lourdes Grotto.
A white marble altar is placed in the niche of the grotto. Later, it was where the Holy Mass took place. There is an underground spring next to the niche and the Pastauninkas River lies beyond the spring. Like with the actual Lourdes, it is believed that the underground spring contains magical powers because it is flowing to the east, i.e. towards the sun.
The upper niche contains the statue of the St. Virgin Mary. The lower niche contains a statue of St. Bernadette, who is holding a candle in her arms and looking up at the statue of St. Mary. The Franciscan friars constructed a small square in front of the grotto and called it St. Mary’s Square.
On August 2nd, 1933, the Kretinga Lourdes was ceremoniously consecrated by bishop Justinas Staugaitis from Telšiai. The ceremony continued for two days and around 25,000 pilgrims from all over Lithuania came to participate.
In 1941, the German army marched into the city and the Lourdes was immediately turned into the place of Jewish suffering and massacre. In 1952, the local communists and the Soviet government ordered the Lourdes to be desecrated. The grotto was buried under a pile of dirt.
In 1988, the grotto ant its territory was returned to the Catholic community. On June 18th, 1989, the Lourdes was reconsecrated. Holy Mass was lead by Antanas Vaičius from Telšiai.
The Kretinga Lourdes is one of the most outstanding locations of its kind in Lithuania. It is a multifaceted symbol, expressing Kretinga’s history, religious culture, architectural heritage, and landscape.
The Kretinga Lourdes is a state-protected cultural heritage. The mansion is now a part of the complex of buildings of the Kretinga Bernardine Monastery and the Church of the Lord’s Revelation to Virgin Mary.
Source: Kretingos enciklopedija