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Group raising money to save religious grotto in Durand

The grotto was built at a Catholic hospital which has since turned into a government center.
Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 4:44 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Since 1954, the Grotto of Our Lady has been a sanctuary for people in Durand.

The 15 feet high, 30 feet long cave-like religious monument was built by Benedictine sisters outside the former St. Benedict’s Community Hospital to be a place for patients and visitors to pray for healing. The hospital has since turned into the Pepin County Government Center and local leaders say the grotto must be gone by the end of the year.

If it cannot be moved, the grotto faces demolition.

Looking to save the grotto, members of the Round Hill Corporation are working to raise $100,000 to move the grotto to Round Hill – Camp Angelus, about five miles down the road.

“It is a sacred grotto, It was blessed at one point so it would be a huge shame if it were torn down,” says Gay Hurlburt, a member of the Round Hill Corporation. “It is a wonderful place to come and pray and have peace.”

For Hurlburt, the grotto is an important piece of Durand’s history.

“I worked at the hospital for two years. I would come out to the grotto when someone was very sick and i would come out and pray,” Hurlburt says.

Daniel Langlois of the Round Hill Corporation has been preparing for this move for years, salvaging the small pieces of the monument like a statue of St. Bernadette and other relics.

“It was a great place of peace for those persons who visited so we would like to keep this tradition going,” Langlois says.

So far the group has raised $8,000. Now Langlois hopes they can raise the rest of the money by the October deadline and move the grotto before winter.

“We are reaching out well beyond Durand, Wisconsin to make this happen,” Langlois says. “We hope people from near and far can jump on board.”

A site has already been marked out for the grotto at Round Hill where it would be used for youth ministry and families to pray and meditate.

To learn more about the grotto and how to donate visit the website for Round Hill or call 715-672-8453

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