A Cave of Candles: The Story Behind Notre Dame's Grotto
The Spirit, History, Legends and Lore of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's
By Dorothy V. Corson

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More on the book
About the Author
Original Research

More by Dorothy
Spirit of Notre Dame
Dorothy's poetry

Related Sites
Notre Dame University
Official Lourdes Site
Video about the Grotto

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Notre Dame
Notre Dame University
Our Lady of Lourdes
Lourdes France

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About the Book

A Cave of Candles tells the history of Our Lady's influence on the Notre Dame campus from Sorin's arrival in the new world to the building of the Grotto and the evolution of the "Spirit of Notre Dame" as we know it today. Along the way we are treated to fascinating legend and lore like the mystery of the missing Empress Crown, the legend of the sycamore and to 198 rare historical images and colorful contemporary photographs of the campus. The book also describes the filming of The Song of Bernadette movie written by screenwriter George Seaton, "a South Bend boy," whose brother was a Notre Dame graduate.

It's a labor of love that represents more than 16 years of research on campus. When I discovered the Grotto would soon be 100 years old, and no one, not even the priests on campus, knew about it, I found myself researching Notre Dame's history and the story behind its Grotto. Something that had never been done before.

One of my priest friends urged me to ask Fr. Hesburgh about its history. "You probably know more about it than I do," he said, "Keep up your good work on the Grotto. It's a story yet to be told." And he gave me this good advice that every young or older person should take to heart, "You'll never know if you don't try. The help will be there when you need it. And Our Lady will find her own way of thanking you." Truer words were never spoken. The inspiration was always there when I needed it the most, in his letters of encouragement throughout my research, and in the Preface he wrote for my book.

I'm hoping this "A Cave of Candles" book with its unique title, which has its own story to tell, will also inspire students new to the campus, who want to know, as I did, all the legend and lore that makes Notre Dame special. And that its 200 pages, many historical images and colorful contemporary photographs will become a book of memories graduating students and alumni can take with them to warm their hearts wherever life sends them.

The book's 5 star review from Brother Jim O'Brien, OFM, Conv., R.N.

Dorothy Corson's "A Cave of Candles: The Story Behind Notre Dame's Grotto," is one of the most fascinating and interesting books I have read in recent years. If you love Lourdes, if you love St. Bernadette, if you love the Grotto at Notre Dame, or if you simply love history, then this IS THE BOOK for YOU!! Loaded with in-depth research (interesting, not boring), top quality photographs, and an obvious love for her subject, Dorothy takes the reader through Fr. Sorin's love for Our Lady of Lourdes to his unending desire to construct a replica of the world-famous Grotto in the United States, notably on the Notre Dame Campus. The book discusses the trials and hardships encountered along the way, the tremendous faith in God and His Heavenly Mother Mary, to the realization of a dream as well as the impact the Grotto has had on countless numbers of students, religious, and anyone touched by its presence!

Dorothy manages to share stories of Indians, the "Legend of the Sycamore," workers involved in the Grotto "project," and constructs for us the life and times of the people of South Bend as they live and work amidst the building of Notre Dame and its most hallowed spot. You can't help but want to keep turning page after page as the story unfolds. Dorothy's compilation of photographs, vintage and contemporary, allows the reader to experience the "Grotto" from a beautifully visual perspective. If you're like me - one who loves photos - you'll love the selection of images that compliments the text on almost every page! You actually feel as though YOU ARE THERE as the dream of a "Grotto" comes to fruition.

As for me, I lived in Mishawaka, Indiana for nearly a year. During my time there I visited the Notre Dame Grotto MANY times. I actually had the privilege of finding the Web version of the "Cave of Candles" as I dabbled through my computer one evening. I also had the distinct privilege of meeting its author, Dorothy Corson. She's as lovely a lady as her book is lovely. Without a doubt, Dorothy has made this book a genuine "labor of love."

Having been to the actual Shrine of Lourdes in France twenty six times, the Notre Dame Grotto has become for me a true place of worship, a place of tranquility and hope. The more I think of Lourdes, the more I share in the beauty of this book, I can't help but think of the legendary Tom Dooley when he said, "Oh, to be able to get on my knees in the Grotto of Our Lady just now!" Dorothy's book allows me to do that!

Click here to see review on Amazon.com

"Look Inside" at Amazon.com

The book's Amazon.com page has a feature called "Look Inside" that lets you see and read actual pages from the book. The pictures in the book are much higher quality than you will see here. You can also search the book if you are looking for something specific. To use all the features of "Look Inside" you need a free Amazon.com account, but you can still see quite a bit without one. Give it a try by clicking Look Inside at Amazon.com

Buying in Quantity

Booksellers, distributors and groups can order in quantity at a discount directly from the printer, Evangel Press. For discount schedules and other information call Evangel Press toll free at 1-800-253-9315. Individuals can order from Evangel Press also, but unless you want multiple copies you will generally get a better price and lower cost shipping by ordering from one of the on line bookstores listed on the left side of this page.

Other Tidbits

There is a YouTube video about the Grotto featuring Dorothy and Father Hesburgh. Click here to watch it on YouTube.

Click here if you would like a PDF version of the cover. If it shows up too big or too small you can use the zoom in and out or + and - buttons in your PDF viewer to change the size. Most PDF viewers also have a "fit page to screen" or "view actual size" option as well.

Back to Dorothy Corson's Poetry Back to Dorothy Corson's "Spirit of Notre Dame"