Monday, September 1, 2008

43. Our Lady of Lourdes

(mass times & church info last updated 03/25/2016) 
Address: 463 W. 142nd St. (East of Amsterdam)
Phone: 212.862.4380
Weekend Mass Times:
Sunday: 8am (Spanish), 10am (English), 12pm (Spanish), 2pm (Spanish)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon: 8:45am (Spanish), 7:30pm (English)
Tue-Sat: 8:45am, 7:30pm (all Spanish)

Guide To New York City Landmarks
About the Organ
Our Lady of Lourdes School
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto

"This Roman Catholic church, one of the oddest buildings in New York, is composed of pieces salvaged from three of the city's most prominent mid-19th-century landmarks and combined by Cornelius O'Reilly. Much of the High Victorian Gothic facade is a reconstruction of Peter B. Wright's famous National Academy of Design which stood at Fourth Avenue and East 23rd Street. The rear of the church consists of the original east end of James Renwick Jr.'s St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was replaced in 1901-06 by a new lady chapel. The stone pedestals that flank the front steps come from the A. T. Stewart mansion, which stood at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street."
- From the Guide to New York City Landmarks by Andrew Dolkart & Matthew A. Postal
Spanish Mass again today, but no intinction.

Why is it I always find the best churches to visit on these public holidays?

I wasn't able to visit the main church - I believe for these weekday masses they only open the basement chapel - but the chapel is quite an amazing place to be. It's like a cave down there - modeled after the Lourdes Grotto no doubt.

I entered this morning, descended the stairs and came into this darkened, ambient lit, holy place. Again - I could not follow the readings or priest, but I found the atmosphere to extremely lend itself to quiet introspective prayer. When it came time for Communion, the priest offered the Eucharist to me in English - do I really look like such a gringo?

I suppose I will come back here for Sunday Mass some weekend so that I may see the church, but I feel somehow it will not be as special to me as this basement grotto chapel - what I'll forever remember as the "underground cave chapel." It probably truly is one of the oddest buildings in New York, certainly one of the odder churches.

I highly suggest this one to you too - go to weekday Mass here, see the cave.

Additional Photos...

I'm glad I went back here for Sunday Mass this morning to take more pictures. I first attended this church almost 6 years ago and at that daily Mass the main church wasn't open, but today it was and I really liked it. It was one of those smaller, but ornate, bright and welcoming churches with just a good architectural vibe, if that makes any sense. There was a lot of natural light and it was easy to take pictures. Sometimes, some of the larger, darker churches are poorly lit and I cannot capture good images. So I was at peace when I arrived here and sat for Mass. Intinction caught me by surprise as it's been awhile since I received communion that way. All in all, a good service. Afterwards my wife and a friend and I visited a nearby little restaurant for a good brunch: Trufa.

Attending this main church today did make me realize something, keeping my past (above) experience in mind: if I had only gone to weekend Mass at this parish and not that long ago daily Mass, I never would have experienced the downstairs cave chapel. (It wasn't open today, just the main part of the building.) That got me thinking about some of the other chapels I've been lucky enough to visit and explore when I go to some of these churches and attend Mass. As if all these wonderful churches weren't enough, a lot of them have secret little chapels a casual visitor like myself would never know about. As I've mentioned before, I often like daily Mass better than the big weekend Masses, because daily Masses are quieter and smaller and usually more intimate. So it is with chapels. It's almost enough to make me want to write a companion blog to this one: Catholic Chapels of Manhattan.

But alas, I'm too tired to take on such a project and go through this all again. But a good idea for someone out there. New images of the main church below...(Chapel photos above, but please go visit it for yourself some weekday night!)


  1. Thank you for sharing these photographs..brings back many fond memories I had at the school & going to mass with my class.

  2. I remember going to this church as a child, I went to OLL, class of '64

  3. I attended Oll and remember the grotto well truly beautiful AMD peaceful place to pray.

  4. Thank you for charing the photos. It is one of the most peaceful places I have been to. Please continue to donate what you can to this church. If possible, please donate to the church. It needs funds to fix the roof. God Bless.

  5. I do remember the Grotto and my first holy communion there. I was probably there in 1965.
    My second grade teacher was Miss Naklie....Hope I spelled her name right.It is a faint memory now with photos to prove the existence.Anyone out there in that class.I am 55 now. I leave in Upstate, NY and spent most of my life in Miami.

    1. I went there from 1st-8th grade. I graduated in 1967. I'm 60 now,but I have very fond memories of my years there. I sang in the choir with Mother Mary Beata as our director. I live in Arlington, Va Is there a site where I could get in touch with other past students?

  6. I love this church! I grew up going to this church. I downstairs and the upstairs church are beautiful.

  7. I attended OLL from 1st-8th grade. I graduated in 1967. I enjoyed my years there,especially singing in the choir. Mother Mary Beata was the choir teacher. Anyone out there from that class?

  8. I attended Religion classes and attended mass there for 18yrs. I left the area in 1984. It is still a beautiful church. You always miss your first church.

  9. Our families attended Our Lady of Lourdes (OLL, OLD LADIES LAUNDRY) since 1936. The entire family went there even when the boys wore Military Uniforms.
    Standing in line to go to school and doing the same on Sunday morning and marching or walking from 143rd to 142nd st to go to Mass together.
    The Church's are always looking impeccable and the Grotto is a whole story in itself. My brother got married in thd grotto in 1960. Wonderfull memories and beautiful pictures . Thank you for them....