For the third consecutive year, Siena held its annual "Blessing of the Athletes" at the College's serene Grotto. College Chaplain Fr. Larry Anderson, O.F.M. officiated the ceremony which was attended by Siena's more than 300 student athletes and athletic department coaches, staff and administrators.
Fr. Anderson opened by reminding those in attendance about being thankful for the blessings that they have received, and to remember those who helped them get to where they are. He then welcomed those to come up who wished to do so to light candles for those people they are grateful for and to pray for them. Fr. Anderson concluded with the official blessing, praying for healthy, successful and fulfilling seasons, and blessed St. Francis medals which he gave to the athletes who chose to keep them with the reminder to wear them while embodying the Franciscan values of fraternity, humility, respect and peace.
The Grotto was dedicated at a ceremony in October of 2014 and has quickly developed into a signature location on campus for those looking to reflect in a peaceful setting.
It is modeled after the famous shrine in Lourdes, France where, in the 19th century, the Blessed Mother appeared to a peasant 14-year-old girl who would later become St. Bernadette. Siena's Grotto incorporates the spirit of the original with a miniature stream and candles sheltered under a stone arch.
Br. F. Edward Coughlin, O.F.M., Ph.D., Siena's president, said that the water feature is intended to remind people of the constant need to be refreshed, renewed and cleansed, while the candles symbolize light and the search for truth.
The Grotto at Siena College includes a statue of Mary from the original Siena Grotto that was dedicated in 1947 in remembrance of veterans and those who had fallen in World War II, including 36 Siena men who made the supreme sacrifice.
Statues of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi and St. Bernardine of Siena are also included in the Grotto's design.
The Grotto at Siena College is located on Turchi Road directly across from the turf athletic field behind the Fr. Benjamin Kuhn, O.F.M. House.