Huntington, IN: St. Felix Capuchin Monastery

The St. Felix Capuchin Monastery was established in 1928 in Huntington, Indiana, and it’s possible that the grotto was built soon after the buildings were constructed, perhaps around 1930.

The grotto was probably built by Brother Fridolin Iten, a lay brother with the Society of the Divine Word in Techny, Illinois who was a gifted artist, sculptor and grotto builder. A biography of him held by the Society of the Divine Word archive mentions that he did work in Huntington, Indiana (although it did not specify at which institution). Brother Fridolin built at least five other Lourdes grottos during the 1930s.

No newspaper articles about the building or dedication of the grotto could be found. The Monastery website contains a page of historical photos, a number of which look like they were taken in the late 1930s (one photo shows a newspaper headline from around 1936). The growth of the shrubs in the photo below would be consistent with nearly a decade of time elapsed since planting:

This photo could have been taken in the late 1930s if the shrubs had been planted around 1930. (St. Felix Catholic Center)

The Monastery closed in 1980 and the property was sold to a non-Catholic religious organization. But in 2010 it was purchased by a benefactor, who donated back to the Catholic Church. The property has been restored and is now a Catholic retreat center named the St. Felix Catholic Center.

The grotto also underwent restoration and received a new statue of Mary. The replacement statue is not the typical statue of Our Lady of Lourdes (with hands clasped in prayer) that stood in the original grotto, but instead has hands downward, so the Grotto may no longer be a Lourdes grotto. (The St. Felix website calls it Our Lady’s Grotto; the original grotto did not have a Bernadette statue and was simply called the Grotto in the postcard, but the original Mary statue was the Lourdes Mary).

The St. Felix Grotto is still a lovely grotto of Our Lady, and is enjoyed by many who stay at the retreat as a beautiful, peaceful place of prayer.

The St. Felix Grotto has been beautifully restored and is enjoyed by retreat visitors. (St. Felix Facebook page)

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