EUCLID, OH - Aside from the wind breezing through the trees and a distant sound of a passing train, it is the splashing water which is the sound most heard at a religious shrine which is though by many to be so holy, it has the ability to help heal faithful people of their physical and mental problems.
At the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Euclid, religious faithful come to touch the water because they believe it has healing properties. The shrine, overseen by a group of nuns, Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity, has been a special place since 1920 when stones from the original Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in France were brought to Greater Cleveland.
The water runs over small pieces of rock from the shrine in France, where Catholic faithful believe a young peasant girl had 18 encounters with the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus in 1858. Bernadette was later named a saint in the Catholic Church. Throughout the years, many who prayed at the location where Bernadette said she saw the Virgin Mary have said they were healed of their physical and mental ailments.
The same holds true at the shrine of the same name in suburban Cleveland.
"I believe the water is healing," said Cherie Wright of Olmsted Falls. "It's all about your belief and connection with the water and the use and purpose of it," she added.
The shrine is open to the public. Quietly, many people come to collect the water running over the rocks which were at the sport where Bernadette said she saw the Virgin Mary.
"We have people who come here from Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals like after their chemo treatments," said sister Rochelle of the Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity, the group of nuns living on the grounds of the shrine and grotto.
Sister Phyllis Ann said the apparitions of 1858 in Lourdes, France, brought many religious faithful to the site where Bernadette said she had the encounters. Slivers of rock were taken from that rocky site and were brought to Euclid where a shrine and grotto were constructed around them. "If you study the whole apparation of Lourdes, it's always been one to share," said Sister Phyllis Ann. "It's never been one to keep; the attitude is we share it with everyone."
Many come to the shrine and grotto to find a peace. "To bring happiness to our lives, to bring relief, to bring healing," said Christopher Kraszewski of Brecksville. As he spoke, his fingers moved up and down the rosary he had brought with him.
So, through the years hundreds of thousands of faithful have walked to the flowing water over the rocks held sacred by the Church and collected jars and bottles of the liquid. "What you must bring here is your faith," said Sister Rochelle.
Within sight of the flowing water is an enclosed area of braces and crutches which some people brought to the shrine. After their experiences with the water and prayer, many felt they did not need the braces and crutches so they discarded them and walked away.
"You must bring your faith," reiterated Sister Rochelle.
The Our Lady of the Lourdes Shrine is located at 21281 Chardon Road in Euclid. It is open to the public every day of the year.