The year 2012 is a once in a lifetime centennial celebration year to commemorate the gift of 3,020 cherry blossom trees from the people of Japan to the people of the United States.
A century ago, a world-famous chemist and first president of Daiichi Sankyo Co, Ltd, Dr. Jokichi Takamine, played a pivotal role in arranging the gift of trees from the City of Tokyo to Washington, DC.
On March 27, 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City donated the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and to celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations.
First Lady Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin. These two original trees are still standing today near the John Paul Jones statue at the south end of 17th Street. Workmen planted the rest of the trees around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. Even after a century the trees have spread their roots and survived the elements, and have withstood the test of time.
This year the centennial celebration of the gift of trees will be celebrated from March 20 – April 27, 2012, in Washington, DC.
On March 23, 2012, my wife and I were in Washington, DC. We felt blessed to be in US during this centennial of the gift of trees. I took countless photographs that day.
Here I have embedded a video that I created using my photos. It was an unforgettable evening that we spent surrounded by cherry blossom. The music playing in the background is one that I enjoy listening without tiring – Carlos Santana’s ever green “Flor D’Luna (Moonflower)“.
In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1 is devoted to the story of Archangel Gabriel announcing the birth of John (the Baptist) to aged Zechariah and the birth of Jesus to virgin Mary.
In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel (Hebrew: גַּבְרִיאֵל, Arabic: جبريل, Jibrīl or جبرائيل Jibrāʾīl) meaning “God is my strength” is an Archangel who typically serves as a messenger to humans from God.
The first appearance of Gabriel is in chapter 9 in the Book of Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel’s visions.
In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel foretells the births of both John the Baptist and of Jesus. Catholic traditions refer to him as Gabriel the Archangel.
Gabriel is referred to as “he” in the Bible, and in Daniel 9:21 he is explicitly called “the man Gabriel”:
I was still praying, when the man, Gabriel, whom I had seen in vision before, came to me in flight at the time of the evening offering. (Daniel 9:21)
Some moderns, especially New Age exponents, portray Gabriel as female or androgynous.
Androgyny is a term derived from Greek referring to the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics.
In Latter-day Saint theology, Gabriel is believed to have lived a mortal life as the prophet Noah. So, according to them, Archangel Gabriel and prophet Noah are regarded as the same person; Noah being his mortal name and Gabriel being his heavenly name.
Jibrāʾīl in Islam
In Islam there are four archangels: Jibrāʾīl (Gabriel), Mika’el (Michael), Israfil (Raphael) and Malak al-Maut (The Angel of Death).
Although some islamic texts claim the Angel of Death’s real name is Izrael (Azrael), this is not confirmed in the Qur’an or hadith.
Jibrāʾīl is called the chief of the four favoured angels and the spirit of truth. He is Allah’s messenger to the prophets. At times Jibrāʾīl takes the form of a man. In Islam, he is also called the created Holy Spirit, which is not to be confused with the Holy Spirit of God in Christianity who is revered as God Himself.
Jibrāʾīl is believed by Muslims to have been the angel who revealed the Holy Qur’an to prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).
According to the Holy Qur’an, Archangel Jibrāʾīl appeared to prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) in a cave where he went to pray. Here is the story that I read long ago. If my retelling of this encounter is wrong I stand to be corrected by my Muslim brethren.
Muhammad (s.a.w.) was a young man around forty and a well to do merchant in the city of Mecca. It was his habit to leave the city and walk up to to a cave in Mount Hira, to be alone and ponder over the day’s events and about the world around him. He would spend time there fasting, praying, thinking, and trying to find answers to the meaning of life.
One day towards the end of the month of Ramadan the prophet came back home exasperated and in an agitated state.
His wife Khadija was initially startled when she heard the prophet telling her that he must have gone mad for he had been visited by an angel. The prophet told her that while he was in a trance-like state, the Archangel Jibrāʾīl appeared before him holding a cloth of green brocade with writing embroidered on it.
“Read,” said the angel.
The Prophet was stupefied. He said, “I cannot read!”
The angel squeezed him, and then released him. “Read” the angel said.
“I cannot read,” Muhammad said, a little louder this time.
The angel squeezed him again, harder than before, and commanded, “Read.”
“I cannot read?” Muhammad said, even louder.
The angel persisted, and the prophet repeatedly resisted, until the angel finally overwhelmed Muhammad and commanded him:
Read with the name of your Lord Who created, Created man from a clot. Read, and your Lord only is the Most Beneficent, The One Who taught to write with the pen. The One Who taught man all what he did not know. (Qur’an 96:1-5)
The Prophet recited the verses after the angel, until he knew it perfectly, word for word.
Then the frightened prophet felt he was alone. The angel and the writing had gone. But the words stayed in his memory, and there was a strange sensation of having been squeezed very hard. Trembling, he stood up, left the cave, and began to walk, shakily, down the mountain path. He was very confused. Then a voice, the same voice, called to him: “Oh Muhammad! Truly you are the messenger of God. And I am his angel, Jibrāʾīl.”
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) looked up, and saw the angel, who looked like a human, but so enormous that his two feet straddled the horizon. For a moment, the prophet was awe-struck. Then he tried to escape, but no matter which way he turned, the angel was there, filling the sky. The prophet could go neither forwards nor back until Jibrāʾīl had disappeared from the sky as suddenly as he had appeared. As it dawned the prophet made his way back to his home in Mecca.
Muslims also have a high esteem for Jibrāʾīl for a number of historical events predating his first appearance to prophet Mohamed (s.a.w.).
Muslims believe that Jibrāʾīl was the angel who informed two parents – Zakariya (Zachariah) and Maryam (Mary) of the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus. Also, Jibrāʾīl was one of three angels who had earlier informed Ibrāhīm (Abraham) of the birth of Isḥāq (Isaac). These events of Zakariya and Maryam can be found in Chapter 19 – surah Maryam in the Holy Qur’an.
HOLY QURAN – THE TREASURE OF FAITH
Chapter 19 – Surah Maryam (Mary)
(Revealed at Mecca – This Chapter has 98 verses in 6 sections)
Allah – beginning with the name of – the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
[These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’an, and none but Allah and to whomever He reveals know their precise meanings.]
2. This is the remembrance of the mercy of your Lord upon His bondman Zakaria.
3. When he softly prayed to his Lord.
4. He submitted, “O my Lord – my bones have become weak and old age shines forth from my head, and O my Lord, I have never been disappointed in my prayer to you.”
5. “And I fear my relatives after me and my wife is barren therefore bestow upon me from Yourself one who will take up my work.”
6. “He being my successor and the heir of the Descendants of Yaqub (Jacob); and my Lord, make him a cherished * one.” (* Make him a Prophet among the Descendants of Israel.)
7. “O Zakaria! We give you the glad tidings of a son whose name is Yahya (John) before him, We have not created anyone of this name.”
8. He submitted, “My Lord – how can I have a son since my wife is barren and I have reached infirmity due to old age?”
9. He (the angel) said, “So it is; your Lord says, ‘This is easy for Me – in fact I created you before this, at a time when you did not exist.’ “
10. He said, “My Lord, give me a sign”; He said, “Your token is that you will not speak to people for three nights, although in proper health.”
11. He, therefore, emerged upon his people from the mosque, and told them through gestures, “Keep proclaiming the Purity (of your Lord) morning and evening.”
12. “O Yahya – hold the Book firmly”; and We gave him Prophethood in his infancy. (Prophet Yahya was only 2 years old at that time.)
13. And compassion from Ourselves, and chastity; and he was extremely pious.
14. And was good to his parents and not forceful, nor disobedient.
15. And peace is upon him the day he was born, and the day he will taste death, and the day he will be raised alive.
16. And remember Maryam in the Book; when she went away from her family to a place towards east.
17. So there she screened herself from them; We, therefore, sent Our Spirit towards her – he appeared before her in the form of a healthy man. (Angel Jibreel – peace be upon him.)
18. She said, “I seek the refuge of the Most Gracious from you – if you fear God.”
19. He said, “I am indeed one sent by your Lord; so that I may give you a chaste son.”
20. She said, “How can I bear a son? No man has ever touched me, nor am I of poor conduct!”
21. He said, “So it is; your Lord has said, ‘This is easy for Me’; and in order that We make him a sign for mankind and a Mercy from Us; and this matter has been decreed.”
22. So she conceived him, and she went away with him to a far place.
23. Then the pangs of childbirth brought her to the base of the palm-tree; she said, “Oh, if only had I died before this and had become forgotten, unremembered.”
24. (The angel) Therefore called her from below her, “Do not grieve – your Lord has made a river flow below you.”
25. “And shake the trunk of the palm-tree towards you – ripe fresh dates will fall upon you.” (This was a miracle – the date palm was dry and it was winter season.)
26. “Therefore eat and drink and appease your eyes; so if you meet any person then say, ‘I have pledged a fast (of silence) to the Most Gracious – I will therefore not speak to any person today.’ “
27. So carrying him in her arms, she brought him to her people; they said, “O Maryam, you have indeed committed a great evil!”
28. “O sister of Haroon, neither was your father an evil man nor was your mother of poor conduct!”
29. Thereupon she pointed towards the child; they said, “How can we speak to an infant who is in the cradle?”
30. The child proclaimed, “I am Allah’s bondman; He has given me the Book and made me a Herald of the Hidden (a Prophet).”
31. “And He has made me blessed wherever I be; and ordained upon me prayer and charity, as long as I live.”
32. “And has made me good to my mother and not made me forceful, ill-fated.”
33. “And peace is upon me the day I was born, and on the day I shall taste death, and on the day I will be raised alive.”
34. This is Eisa (Jesus), the son of Maryam; a true statement, in which they doubt.
35. It does not befit Allah to appoint someone as His son – Purity is to Him! When He ordains a matter, He just commands it, “Be” – and it thereupon happens.
36. And said Eisa, “Indeed Allah is my Lord and your Lord – therefore worship Him; this is the Straight Path.”
37. Then groups among them differed; so ruin is for the disbelievers from the witnessing of a Great Day.
38. Much will they listen and much will they see, on the Day when they come to Us, but today the unjust are in open error.
39. And warn them of the Day of Regret when the matter will have been decided; and they are in neglect, and they do not accept faith.
40. Indeed We shall inherit the earth and all that is on it, and only towards Us will they return.
41. And remember Ibrahim in the Book; he was very truthful, a Herald of the Hidden (a Prophet).
42. When he said to his father, * “O my father – why do you worship one which neither hears nor sees, and cannot benefit you in any way?” (* His uncle Azar.)
43. “O my father, indeed a knowledge has come to me which did not come to you – therefore follow me, I will show you the Straight Path.”
44. “O my father, do not be a bondman of the devil; indeed the devil is disobedient towards the Most Gracious.”
45. “O my father, I fear that a punishment from the Most Gracious may reach you, so you would become a companion of the devil.”
46. He said, “What! You turn away from my Gods, O Ibrahim? If you do not desist, I will certainly stone you, and keep no relation with me for a long while.”
47. So when he had separated from them and what they worshipped other than Allah, We bestowed him Ishaq and Yaqub; and We made each of them a Herald of the Hidden.
50. And We gave them Our mercy and assigned to them a true and high repute.
51. And remember Moosa in the Book; he was indeed a chosen one, and he was a Noble Messenger, a Herald of the Hidden.
52. We called him from the right side of the mountain Tur and brought him close to reveal Our secret.
53. And with Our mercy, We bestowed upon him his brother Haroon, a Prophet.
54. And remember Ismail in the Book; he was indeed true to his promise and was a Noble Messenger, a Prophet.
55. He used to command his people to offer prayer and give charity and was liked by his Lord.
56. And remember Idrees in the Book; he was indeed very truthful, a Prophet.
57. And We lifted him to a high position. (Living with soul & body in heaven, after his death.)
58. It is these upon whom Allah has bestowed favour among the Prophets, from the descendants of Adam; and from those whom We boarded along with Nooh; and from the descendants of Ibrahim and Israel; and from those whom We guided and chose; when the verses of the Most Gracious were recited to them, they fell down, prostrating and weeping. (* Command of Prostration # 5.)
59. And after them came the unworthy successors who squandered prayer and pursued their own desires, so they will soon encounter the forest of Gai in hell.
60. Except those who repented and accepted faith and did good deeds – so these will enter heaven, and they will not be deprived * in the least. (* of their due reward.)
61. Everlasting Gardens of Eden, which the Most Gracious has proomised to His bondmen in the unseen; indeed His promise will come.
62. They will not hear any lewd talk in it, but only Peace; and in it for them is sustenance, every morning and evening.
63. It is the Paradise that We will bequeath to those among Our bondmen who remain pious.
64. (Said Angel Jibreel to Prophet Mohammed – peace and blessings be upon them) “And we angels do not come down except by the command of your Lord; to Him only belongs all that is ahead of us and all that is behind us and all that is between them; and your Lord is not forgetful.”
65. Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them – therefore worship Him and be firm in His worship; do you know any other of the same name as His?
66. And says man, “When I am dead, will I soon be brought forth alive?”
67. Does not man remember that We created him before this, and he was non-existent?
68. So by your Lord, We shall assemble them and the devils – all of them – and bring them around hell, fallen on their knees.
69. We shall then pick out from every group the one who was most arrogant towards the Most Gracious.
70. Moreover, We well know those who most deserve to be burned in hell.
71. And there is none among you who shall not pass over hell; this is an obligatory affair, binding upon your Lord. (Allah will make everyone pass over the back of hell – on a thin bridge.)
72. We shall then rescue the pious – and leave the unjust in it, fallen on their knees.
73. And when Our clear verses are recited to them, the disbelievers say to the Muslims, “Which group has a better home, and a better alliance?”
74. And many a generation We did destroy before them, who exceeded them in wealth and pomp!
75. Proclaim, “For one in error – so the Most Gracious may give him respite; to the extent that when they see the thing which they are promised – either the punishment or the Last Day; so then they will come to know for whom is the evil rank and whose army is weak.”
76. And Allah will increase the guidance for those who have received guidance; and good deeds that remain have the best reward before your Lord, and the best outcome.
77. So have you seen him who denied Our signs and says, “I shall certainly be given wealth and children?”
78. Has he seen the Hidden, or has he made a pact with the Most Gracious?
79. Never; We shall now record what he says and give him a prolonged punishment.
80. And it is We only Who shall inherit what he says (belongs to him), and he will come to Us, alone.
81. And they have chosen Gods besides Allah, so that they may provide them strength!
82. Never; soon they will deny ever worshipping them, and will turn into their opponents.
83. Did you not see that We sent devils upon the disbelievers, so they excite them abundantly?
84. So do not be impatient for them (O dear Prophet Mohammed – peace and blessings be upon him); We are only completing their number. * (* The number of days left for them or their evil deeds.)
85. On the day when We shall assemble the righteous towards the Most Gracious, as guests.
86. And drive the guilty towards hell, thirsty.
87. People do not own the right to intercede, except those * who have made a covenant with the Most Gracious. (* The Holy Prophets and virtuous people will be given the permission to intercede. Prophet Mohammed – peace and blessings be upon him – will be the first to intercede.)
88. And the disbelievers said, “The Most Gracious has chosen an offspring.”
89. You have indeed brought an extremely grave speech!
90. The heavens are close to being torn apart by it, and the earth being split asunder, and the mountains succumbing and falling down.
91. Due to their ascribing of an offspring to the Most Gracious.
92. And it does not befit the Most Gracious to choose an offspring!
93. All those who are in the heavens and the earth will come to the Most Gracious as His bondmen.
94. He knows their number and has counted each one of them.
95. And each one of them will come before Him on the Day of Resurrection, alone.
96. Indeed those who believed and did good deeds – the Most Gracious will appoint love for them. (In the hearts of other believers.)
97. We have therefore made this Qur’an easy upon your tongue, (O dear Prophet Mohammed – peace and blessings be upon him) for you to announce glad tidings with it to those who fear, and warn those who are quarrelsome.
98. And many a generation We did destroy before them; do you see any one of them or hear their faintest sound?
The pair of bean-shaped kidneys, each about the size of a fist, are vital organs in our body located, one on each side of the spine, near the middle of our back, just below the rib cage. The kidneys perform many functions to keep our blood clean and chemically balanced.
Our body uses food for energy and maintenance. Wastes in the blood come from food that we consume and from the normal breakdown of active tissues, such as muscles. Every day, a person’s kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood and filter out about 2 quarts of waste products and remove excess water. The wastes and excess water flow to the bladder through two tubes called ureters as urine. The bladder stores urine until releasing it through urination.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), also called cilantro, koththamalli(in Tamil), or dhania (in Hindi) is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. In the English-speaking world (except for the U.S.) the leaves and seeds are known as coriander. In American culinary usage, the leaves are generally referred to by the Spanish word cilantro.
Coriander is an excellent source of minerals like calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. It is also rich in many vital vitamins essential for optimum health including vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C and folic acid. By the way, vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant.
A study found both the coriander leaves and seed act as antioxidants, however, the leaves were found to have a stronger effect. Hence, Coriander like many other spices can delay or prevent spoilage of food seasoned with this spice. Chemicals derived from coriander leaves were found to have antibacterial activity against Salmonella choleraesuis, caused in part by these chemicals acting as nonionic surfactants.
Coriander seeds are used in traditional Indian medicine as a diuretic (a substance or drug that tends to increase the discharge of urine) by boiling equal amounts of coriander seeds and cumin seeds, then cooling and consuming the resulting liquid.
The powerful anti-inflammatory capacities of coriander can help one deal with symptoms of arthritis. Coriander also increases HDL cholesterol (the good) and reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad).
Cholesterol – the good and the bad
Cholesterol is not all bad. It is an essential fat. In fact, it provides stability in every cell of our body. The liver makes some cholesterol and some come from diet. Cholesterol cannot dissolve in blood, so transport proteins called lipoproteins carry it to locations where it needs to go.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
The low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol particles are less dense than other kinds of cholesterol particles. Each microscopic blob of LDL cholesterol consists of an outer rim of lipoprotein surrounding a cholesterol centre.
What Makes LDL Cholesterol Bad? It is just its chemical makeup. Here’s how high amounts of LDL cholesterol leads to plaque growth and atherosclerosis.
Some LDL cholesterol circulating through the bloodstream tends to deposit in the walls of arteries. This process starts as early as childhood or adolescence.
White blood cells swallow and try to digest the LDL, possibly in an attempt to protect the blood vessels. In the process, the white blood cells convert the LDL to a toxic (oxidized) form.
More white blood cells and other cells migrate to the area, creating steady low-grade inflammation in the artery wall.
Over time, more LDL cholesterol and cells collect in the area. The ongoing process creates a bump in the artery wall called a plaque – made of cholesterol, cells, and debris.
The process tends to continue, growing the plaque and slowly blocking the artery.
An even greater danger than slow blockage is a sudden rupture of the surface of the plaque. A blood clot can form on the ruptured area, causing a heart attack.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
The High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol particle is dense compared to other types of cholesterol particles. Each microscopic blob of HDL cholesterol consists of a rim of lipoprotein surrounding a cholesterol centre.
The well-behaved HDL cholesterol is a friendly scavenger that cruises the bloodstream. It removes harmful bad cholesterol from where it doesn’t belong. High HDL levels reduce the risk for heart disease — but low LDL levels increase the risk.
Experts believe HDL cholesterol may act in a variety of helpful ways that tend to reduce the risk for heart disease:
HDL cholesterol scavengers and removes LDL cholesterol.
HDL reduces, reuses, and recycles LDL cholesterol by transporting it to the liver where it is reprocessed.
HDL cholesterol acts as a maintenance crew for the inner walls of blood vessels (endothelium). Damage to the endothelium is the first step in the process of atherosclerosis, which causes heart attacks and strokes. HDL chemically scrubs the endothelium clean and keeps it healthy.
Coriander leaves offer great relief from stomach indigestion problems and the like. It also helps reduce feelings of nausea. Since it has strong antioxidant properties, it helps promote healthy liver function.
A friend suggested that consuming an infusion of Coriander leaves is a good remedy for kidney pain. This is the instruction my friend gave me to prepare a decoction using coriander leaves:
“Wash and clean a bunch of fresh coriander leaves thoroughly in water to remove the dirt and any residual harmful pesticides that might be sticking on them. Chop the leaves as small as possible. Put the chopped leaves in a vessel, pour filtered water and boil for 10 minutes. Filter after cooling using a sieve. Pour the filtered liquid into a sterilized glass bottle and store it in a refrigerator.”
She said: “Drink one glass of the liquid daily and you will notice all salt and other accumulated poison coming out of your system while passing urine. Also, you will notice that you feel healthier than before.“
By the way, coriander can produce an allergic reaction in some people. So, please consult your physician before consuming the coriander decoction.
Above the lovely valley of Emmitsburg, Frederick County, Maryland, just 12 miles south of Gettysburg, situated high on the mountainside, where nature displays itself in all its picturesque and wild glory sits the wondrous National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes – a shrine which traces its lineage to the very beginnings of the spread of Catholicism in America.
Incredibly linked with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church, the Shrine is one of the oldest known American replica of the revered French shrine, dating to about 1875, two decades after the apparitions at Lourdes (1858), although the site had already been in use since 1805, when Father John Dubois founded it as a place of prayer and devotion.
This holy mountain sanctuary of historic importance to the Catholics of America has been devoutly tended throughout the years and attracts thousands of pilgrims from all parts of the world for prayer and meditation.
My wife Assuntha and I along with my son Subas, daughter-in-law Maria Ligia, grandson Rohan and my grandson’s godfather Joe Napoleon visited this holy shrine on Saturday 11 February 2012. It was snowing that day, nevertheless, we thank the Almighty for leading us to Emmitsburg, where Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint had trod a long time ago on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The Story of Our Lady’s Grotto
In the year 1728, a group of Catholics left St. Mary’s City on the St. Mary’s River, in Maryland, and travelled westward seeking peace and religious freedom. These Catholics were children and grandchildren of the early colonists of Maryland.
Among the refugees of 1728, were the members of the William Elder family, forebears of Archbishop Elder of Cincinnati. They travelled to the west almost one hundred miles to the Blue Ridge Mountains, located in the eastern United States, starting at its southern-most portion in Georgia, then ending northward in Pennsylvania. They stopped at the first range of the Blue Ridge Mountains, giving the loved name, “St. Mary’s Mount” to its eastern prominence.
Finding rest in a peaceful valley of “surpassing beauty,” which they called “St. Joseph’s Valley,” they took the land and built their homes. Here they were cared for spiritually through the years by missionary priests forced to travel in disguise because of the penal laws against Catholics prevailing during that time.
The Elder farmhouse became known as “Elder’s Station.” Here Mass was celebrated and the dead were buried in the adjoining cemetery.
Father John Dubois and the Grotto
In 1805, after the Revolution and the constitutional grant of religious freedom, Father John Dubois, a refugee priest from France, came to this area and settled. This priest, who later became Bishop of New York, was, in the year 1794, appointed pastor of Frederick by Bishop Carroll. His pastorate included all of western Maryland and western Virginia. Of all the lovely places he visited in this wild and mountainous country, he came to love most the Mountain of Mary and the Valley of St. Joseph.
In 1805, on St. Mary’s Mount, Father John Dubois built St. Mary’s Church at the site of the present Grotto parking lot.
For over a century, this church was a beacon calling the faithful to Mass from the Valley and a reminder to them to keep the Faith. Numerous paths, traceable up to this day and all converging on the church, show with what fidelity the Catholics practised their faith.
To this very day the people of the Valley, now members of St. Anthony’s parish, exhibit a strong, living and very simple faith. Families have lived here for many generations. Very few move away. They are a happy people with a proud awareness of their ancient Catholic heritage. After all, very few parishes in these United States can claim that they have had uninterrupted priestly service for 235 years. Very few Americans can say that their forebears were taught by holy people. They are the spiritual children of Saint Mother Seton.
On the lower terraces, Father Dubois began the first building of Mount Saint Mary’s College and Seminary in 1808.
Father Simon Gabriel Bruté
One of the holy founders of the Grotto, Father Simon Gabriel Bruté came to the Mountain in 1812. This remarkable priest, later first Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, combined in his person the talents and attainments of a scholar, theologian, master of the spiritual life, teacher, and pastor of souls.
This spiritual enthusiast reveled in the beauty of the Mountain of Mary and the Valley of St. Joseph. Father Bruté brought to the Mountain and the Valley a program of holy activity.
Remembering the orderly, cultivated hills of his native France, Father Bruté strove to “smooth the frown from nature’s erring face.” Springs were cleaned out, covered and named for saints; terraces and paths found their way up the rugged Mountainside to the. church and Grotto. They were constructed so well that we walk along them today and the stone walls remain. He attached crosses to the trees on the path between the church and the Grotto so that one might make the Stations of the Cross along this beautiful woodland avenue.
On the left side of the Grotto parking lot. several hundred yards back in the mountains, behind the site of Father John Dubois’ church, is the famous Grotto, the most ancient shrine consecrated to Mary, the mother of God, in continuous existence in the original thirteen colonies, on which was begun in 1875 the first Lourdes Grotto in America.
“Aisle of the Corpus Christi Procession.”
A memorable devotion centered about the old Grotto was the annual Corpus Christi procession.
It was during Father John Baptist Purcell’s (later Archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio) term as president of the college (1829-1833) that these annual processions at the Grotto over Father Bruté’s paths began, or at least began to be chronicled, and another charm was added to the Mountain.
The lovely road lying between the site of the old church and the Grotto is still called the “Aisle of the Corpus Christi Procession.”
Corpus Christi Chapel
This stone chapel was built in 1906 on the site of the original Grotto discovered by Father John DuBois in 1805.
There is a legend that Father John Dubois, on one of his pastoral journeys, was attracted by a light on the mountain and found this spot, one of the loveliest in the world.
Those of a more practical mind may surmise that Father John Dubois was seeking the source of the stream which flowed out of the ravine into the valley below. Just what did the priest find on his day of discovery?
He climbed a steep ascent through a rocky ravine along a tumbling torrent, which was much broader and more unruly than at present, for its volume has lessened since the trees were cut down on the mountain. He came upon a lovely clearing, a masterpiece of natural beauty. Sharply sloping hills from almost every side formed a natural amphitheater where nature “displayed itself in all its wild and picturesque beauty.” In the center of this clearing, where now the stone chapel stands, he saw a mound, shaded by the branches of an ancient oak. Such huge oak trees are seen even to this day on the mountain, survivors of the woodsmen’s devastation.
In any event, Father John Dubois found the Grotto-site, a dell of breath-taking beauty, and there erected a rude cross.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Grotto
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first Superior of the Sisters of Charity, dedicated to serving the poor, was the next holy person to love the Grotto. She came in the year 1809 to the Mountain where, before moving to the Valley, she and her little band of pioneer sisters lived for six weeks near the Church and the Grotto. Here her sister-in-law Harriet received the gift of Faith. And, after Mother Seton moved to the Valley, the Grotto was to her the most loved spot on the mountain. It is possible that Mother Seton first called it the Grotto, for we find this reference in one of her letters, dated May 27, 1810:
“If you could breathe our mountain air and taste the repose of the deep woods and streams. Yesterday we all, about twenty children and sisters, dined in our grotto on the mountain, where we go Sundays for the divine office.”
Rosetta Landry White, called Mother Rose, who succeeded Mother Seton gives further details of this holy association with the Grotto:
“About this time we walked to the Mountain Church every Sunday to sing at High Mass and assist at the sermon; there was no bridge over the creek in our way, therefore, when the water was high, we had to cross one by one on horseback; and when low, we passed over on the stones; as there was no clear road to the Mountain we often lost our way in the woods. We carried our dinner in a basket and frequently cooked our meat at the mountain; taking it from the frying-pan to place it on a piece of bread without a knife or fork, and ate it standing, as the Israelites of old ate the Pascal Lamb. We would then quench our thirst at a neighboring spring and ramble for a time around the Grotto, a wild and picturesque spot some distance from the Church, furnished with seats, covered with vines, wild flowers in luxuriance around it and a gentle rivulet flowing from the rock above. We thus amused ourselves until time for Vespers and Benediction after which we returned to our Home in the Valley. This was all pleasant enough in summer, although we had no umbrellas to protect us from the heat of the sun or the showers that sometimes surprised us. On coming to the creek in the rain, we would find there a horse sent from the Mountain by Father Du Bois, to take us across; the eldest Sister would remain standing in the rain by the old oak tree until we all has safely passed over; then taking her turn, she would sometimes continue her ride to the farm-house door. Our shoes would be heavy with mud and our clothes so wet that we would be obliged to change. We continue this Sunday journey to the Mountain.” – Mother Rose White’s Journal 1809.
The eldest Sister, mentioned by Mother Rose must definitely be Mother Seton.
The first statue of Our Lady was placed in the Grotto in Mother Seton’s time. Truly Mother Seton loved this Grotto. It entered into her daily thoughts, conversations, and writings. In a letter to Father Brute, she prayed for “one only heart, clear for my thoughts as the stream of your Grotto.”