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Sharpsburg's St. Mary grotto again a place to pray

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Tom McGee | The Herald
Mike and Beatrice Aluise at St. Mary's grotto.
Tom McGee | The Herald
People will again use St. Mary's grotto to pray the rosary.

Beatrice Aluise will be easy to find this month.

She plans to pray the rosary with a group at the St. Mary Church grotto in Sharpsburg at 7 p.m. each night in May, to recognize the month of Mary.

She has done this for as long as she can remember, although the grotto property wasn't open to the group in 2012.

The property was sold about two years ago.

But this year marks a return to the grotto for the group, after a year of praying at a different location in the borough.

The rosary group received permission from the new owner to continue using the site.

Donated statues and other items were used to fill in the grotto.

Aluise's son, Mike Aluise, said the grotto, which has been at its St. Mary location for at least 50 years, has a special place in Sharpsburg history.

“It's sort of like a Sharpsburg landmark,” Mike Aluise of Shaler said.

Many couples have used the site for wedding photographs and to commemorate other important events.

“People who get married will come to the grotto to have their pictures taken,” Beatrice Aluise, of Sharpsburg, said.

Mike Aluise said he hopes that people will learn that the grotto is open and return. His mother said the prayer groups typically grow as May goes on.

In the past, the grotto has been the end point of processions through town. Mike Aluise said he hopes that tradition will return.

Mike Aluise said officials of St. Juan Diego Parish, which includes St. Mary Catholic Church, have been supportive in the efforts to reopen the grotto.

He said he is glad that activities have returned to the grotto and hopes the area is used by people in the community.

“To come by this street and see this not here anymore would be funny to a lot of people from the area,” he said.

Tom McGee is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513 or tmcgee@tribweb.com.

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