Our Lady's Grotto

Extract from the Archives of the Community:

“On the 10th of June 1940, Italy declared war on France and England. At 7 o’clock in the morning of Tuesday 11th June, bombs fell around us without however hitting the college; damage consisted of only a large number of broken panes.

The raids increased every day and people started evacuating the area. In the imminent peril which threatened the community, the Brothers made the following vow to its saintly Protectors: the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Most Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, St. John Baptist de la Salle and St. Teresa of the Child Jesus:

  1. To celebrate every year, the months of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Most Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph by the singing of three stanzas of a canticle followed by the litanies in their honour.
  2. TO ERECT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE a GROTTO OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES ON THE PLACE DESTINED FOR IT.
  3. To make a Novena of prayer in preparation for the feasts of St. John Baptist de la Salle and of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, and to have a Mass said in their honour on the day of their feast or on another day in the octave.

In case of preservation of the College, the Community binds itself to fulfil its vow.

As was customary in those days, the community informed a higher Superior, Bro. Assistant Lawrence O’Toole, of its intention. He answered in these words:

  1. Erect the Grotto as soon as possible.
  2. Novenas to Holy Founder and St. Teresa to consist of a single prayer.
  3. Masses to be said as mentioned above.

The Blessing:

On the high ground facing the entrance to De La Salle College now raises the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, a superb structure artistically assembled by amateurish hands from hard, weather-beaten rocks collected along the Dingli wastes.

Father Raymond Formosa O.P. Prior of St. Dominic’s Church, Valletta, conducted the blessing ceremony of the hallowed spot where the treble voices of the younger generations will mix with the deeper tones of senior and former pupils and the fervent prayers of pilgrims to the Mother of God.

A Thanksgiving Act:

“Let the chiselling of your names on this marble slab” said the Brother Director in his introductory address, “be a gage of your eternal salvation which you will attain the more easily with Mary’s help.” For it was a group of about 50 Dockyard Apprentices, former pupils of the college who in thanksgiving for their success at the Dockyard Apprentices Examination of 1949 spontaneously offered their first weekly wages to erect a statue to Our Lady of Lourdes and another to Bernadette.

Bro. Simon, the Provincial, who unveiled the Grotto, praised their generosity and dwelt on the role that the Mother of God plays in every stage of life. Bro. Aloysius, former Director of the College (himself an ex Dockyard worker), under whose directorship the grotto was started, unveiled the commemorative marble plaque bearing the names of the donors. While the surrounding bastions echoed the Aves of the Lourdes hymn, two representatives from every form in the college laid at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, a candle and a bunch of flowers. The Grotto remained exquisitely illuminated until late at night.

Quoted from a document written on Saturday, May 6, 1950