, a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes
was the idea of Father, later Canon, Thomas N. Taylor
(died 1963), parish priest of St. Francis Xavier
's Parish in Carfin
, two miles east of Motherwell
, in the West of Scotland. He wanted to build a shrine similar to the Grotto of Massabielle
at the shrine of Lourdes
Work on the Carfin version of the Lourdes Grotto
began in the early 1920s. The shrine was built, by hand, by local parishioners on a site opposite the Catholic Church. Many of the builders were coal miners
from Carfin and neighbouring villages out of work during the 1921 Coal Miners' Strike. It is said that Fr. Taylor was aware of the need to keep these workers occupied to minimise the effects of unemployment on their morale. Fr. Taylor inspired hard work and dedication from his workers.
Starting as only a bare field, the shrine was largely complete within two years. It depicted Our Lady's appearance to Saint Bernadette in a bricked, terraced scene which included an altar for outdoor Mass, when the West of Scotland weather allowed. Canon Taylor's book of the shrine's first thirty years records over 300 volunteers working on the grotto in its first two decades. He also records a single pilgrimage of over fifty thousand pilgrims in 1924.Mgr Thomas N. Canon Taylor "Carfin Grotto - The First Thirty years...