New outdoor grotto at St. Jude, Peoria, invites prayers for those in COVID-19 fight

A new outdoor prayer grotto has been established at St. Jude Church and School in Peoria in support of all those in the fight against COVID-19. Information on how to light a candle on behalf of health care workers, first responders, or those in peril is found by clicking the "Shine a Light" banner on the parish website, (Photo by Daryl Wilson)

A new outdoor prayer grotto has been established on the grounds of St. Jude Church and School in Peoria to support all those in the fight against COVID-19.

A sign bearing the words of a Vatican-composed prayer during this time of pandemic rests near the new outdoor prayer grotto at St. Jude Church and School in Peoria. (Photo by Nellie Gould)

The public is invited to have a candle lit by submitting prayers — for themselves or on behalf of others — via the parish website, Click on the “Shine a Light” banner.

The candles are held by a wooden structure built by a parish volunteer to surround a statue of Mary. The statue, dedicated in 2016, and new outdoor grotto are found in a corner of the school exterior that is visible from the parish’s interior parking lot. The parish grounds are located at 10811 N. Knoxville Ave., with entry to the parking lots off Wilhelm Road.

The grotto holds candles that are color-coded to reflect different prayer intentions, including:

  • white, for those in peril (the sick, dead, jobless, essential workers, and those in financial difficulty);
  • blue, for doctors, nurses, and all in the medical field, and
  • red, for first responders including firefighters, EMTs, police, etc.

A donation of $5 per candle is suggested.

Father Patrick Henehan, pastor of St. Jude Parish, said parish leadership will offer prayers for all the requests. Parishioners, too, will be encouraged to spend time in prayer for the intentions symbolized by the lighted candles.


“We simply wanted to create an outdoor space that would allow people to be safe and also be comforted and connected to faith,” said Father Henehan. “A grotto to our Blessed Mother does all those things. That we have a parishioner who can build and volunteered his time is such an added blessing.”

Shea Larson, a fifth grade student at St. Jude Catholic School in Peoria, prays the rosary safely from her family’s car in front of the new outdoor prayer grotto. (Provided photo/Melissa Larson)

Father Henehan said inspiration for the grotto came from the sense of peace experienced by pilgrims taking part in a recent parish-sponsored trip to the Marian shrine at Fatima, Portugal.

The St. Jude outdoor grotto uses wicked candles similar to the ones in the parish church. Some people light candles every week for a particular person or intention, while others have a one-time, short term need of prayer.

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