That Healing Bronx Tap Water

Karen Daskawicz daskawicz at gmail.com
Mon Jul 7 22:35:01 PDT 2008


(from another list)

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-holywater7-2008jul07,0,775184.story
Bronx pilgrims seek a splash of grace
Even after a spring dried up at St. Lucy's church grotto, people came
for the blessed tap water at a replica of Our Lady of Lourdes. These
days, they're impelled by pocketbook tribulations.
By Erika Hayasaki, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 7, 2008

NEW YORK -- The clear cascade spilling over the rocks at this Bronx
church grotto is New York City tap water, but the people who come
here believe it heals.

Bronx pilgrims seek a splash of grace

Even after a spring dried up at St. Lucy's church grotto, people came
for the blessed tap water at a replica of Our Lady of Lourdes. These
days, they're impelled by pocketbook tribulations.
By Erika Hayasaki, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 7, 2008
NEW YORK -- The clear cascade spilling over the rocks at this Bronx
church grotto is New York City tap water, but the people who come
here believe it heals.

Every day, dozens flock to the stream beneath the statue of the
Virgin Mary at St. Lucy's Roman Catholic Church, a replica of Our
Lady of Lourdes in France where many believe miracles have unfolded.



    * Holy water in the Bronx
      Photos: Holy water in the Bronx

Toting empty baby bottles, flasks, wine jugs, water and juice
bottles, even gallon jugs, they douse their heads in the water, rinse
their faces, pour it on their cars, and nudge their children and dogs
under the flow.

Since 1939, people have come here from around the world to pray for
cures to cancer or to rescue loved ones from their deathbeds. The
coveted water once came from a natural spring, church leaders say,
but the spring dried up long ago, forcing them to switch to city
water blessed by priests.

Although church leaders say it's not holy water, people still believe
it performs miracles, and their faith is enough to keep them coming.

In recent months, many people making their way to this grotto have
been hoping the water will bring them mercy from a crippling economy:
They are asking the water to help bring them jobs, and money for
groceries and rent.

"Food prices are ridiculous," said Marlene Rosario, 35, who soaked
herself on a recent afternoon. "Prices go up and jobs are going
nowhere. Milk is $5 a gallon. Eggs are higher."

It was Rosario's first time visiting the grotto, and she came to pray
for a better job because she can barely support her three children as
a home health aide these days.

"I had to go today," said Rosario, wearing white flip-flops and
carrying empty margarine tubs she planned to fill with water.
"Something was telling me 'Go, go.' "

Tattooed men, high school couples, schoolchildren in uniforms,
elderly men with canes, homeless people, and tourists enter through
rusted gates, tracing the sign of cross on their bodies and kneeling
before the statue.

Eight benches across the courtyard face the waterfall, where a man
talks of how the water cured his wife's aching ankles, and an elderly
woman dabs a wet tissue on her deaf friend's ears.

Drops from the stream trickle onto candles flickering in blue
holders. Bouquets of orchids, carnations and roses peek from cracks
in the rocks.

"I've been coming ever since I was little," said Elizabeth Ayala, 47,
on a recent afternoon. "I take a bath with it, clean the house with
it."

Lately, she's been praying that the water will help her with
hardships. "In my job, I'm getting less hours. . . . It's gotten bad.
I'm scared," said Ayala, who recently applied for food stamps for the
first time in her life.

"You have to keep your faith," she said, "or everything will fall apart."

Anthony Rivera, 51, drove an hour from Fishkill, N.Y., to cart home
gallons of the water. He dunked his bulky body in it. Beads dripped
from his tank top and denim shorts.

Rivera said he recently got laid off from his job. He hopes the water
will bring him luck.

"I feel revived and I feel spiritually uplifted again," he said,
before splashing it on his blue Saturn, rosary beads hanging from its
rearview mirror.

"This economy is going down, down, down. This is the way of the
world, and we've got to survive some way."

erika.hayasaki at latimes.com

-- 
K. Daskawicz



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