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Ernie Savard, shown here in a familiar role, taking care of the flowers and the grounds of the Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine located on the top of the hill just off Van Horne Street in Sudbury, is one of the true friends of the grotto. In fact, when you mention Ernie Savard's name today, you automatically think of The Grotto. 

The Grotto was erected in 1907 along the east side of the hill, embedded in a 20-foot rock protecting a beautiful nine-foot statue of Mary. In 1954, fourteen marble statuettes, depicting the stations of the cross were erected on the site by the Rosary Club. 

Since then, other statues and spiritual areas have been developed, making this one of the most beautiful, tranquil places in the entire region. 

During the 1950's, thousands of people gathered to pay homage to Our Lady of Lourdes, but in the years that followed, the area fell into a period of neglect, reaching its lowest point when vandals attempted to steal the statue of Mary in 1993.

At that time, Ernie Savard and a newly formed group called Friends of the Grotto began a clean up and improvement campaign. Today, Ernie Savard, fellow members of the Knights of Columbus, and several other volunteers, have devoted their lives to keeping the Shrine clean and trimmed so that people of the area and tourists from around the world can enjoy the splendour of this site.

"It's surprising how many people come up here," stated Savard, who spends several hours a day taking care of the property. "People are looking at the Blessed Mother and it is as though she is saying, bring this place back to life."

Savard pointed out that many people who visit the shrine experience a deep sense of satisfaction and inner peace. Some are inspired to change their lives for the better. "Everyone has problems. There is so much pain in the world. A place like this helps people to get over their troubles."  

Ernie Savard knows that some day The Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, which is considered one of Sudbury's sacred places, will once again attract thousands of people. When it does, we will have Ernie Savard and all of the Friends of the Grotto to thank.

 

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