When Was The Virgin Mary Grotto At Potrero Avenue & 21 Street Built?

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Fellow history buffs, there's a plaque at the grotto indicating that a statue of the Virgin Mary was installed there in 1918, so that would be my estimate for the grotto's construction date as well, but even a great story in the Chonicle couldn't confirm that.

Anyway, although the statue is long gone, and the site is now city owned property, at least the grotto remains.

If anyone can confirm the date of the grotto's construction, or even the whereabouts of the Virgin Mary statue (which obviously isn't going to be reinstalled there), it would all be quite interesting to know.

-- Hamilton Barrett (Mimereader2@Yahoo.com), July 10, 2004


Perhaps a replacement statue could be installed. However, the City would have to deal with those pesky "separation of church-and state" issues.

This controversy could be side-stepped by claiming the statue was actually a celebate transvestite named "The Virgin Marty".

-- P.S. Perris (psperris@slip.net), July 10, 2004.

In the 1869 a Magdelyn Asylum for "wayward girls" was built on that site and run by the Sisters of Mercy. In 1904 it was re-named St. Catherine's Home and Training School for girls. The work was taken over by the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1932, the name once again was changed, to the Good Shepherd Home, and the institution was moved to a new site some miles away. Sisters of Mercy who died were buried on the Potrero property. When the land was sold to the City and County for the new General Hospital in 1932 the remains were moved to Holy Cross Cemetery. The old psychiatric unit stands on the former site of the Magdalyn Asylum. In the meditation garden next to the building is a Lourdes grotto, once part of the St. Catherine’s Home. The exact date of construction isn't at my fingertips, but legend has it that the City tried to demolish it, but it was too sturdy so they abandoned the attempt and incorporated it into the garden. This link will (hopefully) provide a picture of St. Catherine's Home in 1925: http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/FindingAids/dynaweb/calher/cook/figures/I 0050550B.jpg

-- Angus Macfarlane (aamacfarlane@earthlink.net), November 11, 2004.

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