The University of Notre Dame is, first and foremost, the premier Catholic university in the country. Along with all of the football-related events and activities and sights and sounds, Notre Dame offers various awe-inspiring must-sees for anyone religiously or spiritually inclined, including the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the old log chapel (a replica of the first building on campus, which was built as a headquarters for missionaries in northern Indiana – masses are regularly held there nowadays), and my personal favorite, the Grotto.
The Grotto is a reproduction of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette and asked her to build a chapel there. Notre Dame’s version is tucked into a little hillside very close to the Basilica and Admin building, and features the same cave-like feel with hundreds of candles, kneelers facing the candles, lots of beautiful flowers and trees helping create a beautifully isolated and private feel, and a statue of Mary watching over the whole scene from a cut-out in the rock wall.
There is no better place to go on campus for a moment of peace and quiet and careful reflection, as countless people will go there to light a candle, say a prayer, and think about the important things. I know I personally visited there during various tough times in my four years at ND, and cannot speak highly enough about how powerful of a scene it is to walk to the Grotto at night, illuminated with hundreds of candles, each lit with a specific petition or prayer or thought in mind. It’s a beautiful, impressive reminder that sometimes slowing down and reflecting on things can make all the difference. This is an absolute must-see, whether you are religious or not, as the beauty and serenity alone will make you happy you visited.
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