On the first Saturday of each month, The Grotto hosts a healing Mass and a memorial of St. Peregrine, a 14th-century Servite who is the patron of those who have cancer. As many as 700 people attend and are blessed with a relic of the saint.

On Aug. 3, the event gets expanded to a pilgrimage day. It begins with a 10 a.m. Servite rosary of Our Lady of Sorrows, followed by a talk, confessions and a noon St. Peregrine healing Mass. The afternoon includes a 3 p.m. Holy Hour.



St. Peregrine, an Italian friar who died in 1345, was at first a troubled youth when St. Philip Neri, who founded the Servites, came to preach in his town. Peregrine and his friends ridiculed the visiting holy man, who responded only with kindness. That largeness of spirit so touched Peregrine that he joined the Servites as a lay brother. As part of his self-imposed penance, he stood for long hours, which may have caused a cancerous sore on his leg. Doctors were about to amputate when Peregrine dragged himself to the chapel and asked Jesus for healing. His tumor disappeared.

It was more than a medical miracle, says Father Don Siple, rector at The Grotto. “All of us find ourselves somehow, some way, in need of the healing touch of our Lord,” says the priest. He considers St. Peregrine a regular guy who was in need of conversion and believed God’s mercy was always there for him to accept.

“His story meets our story,” Father Siple says. “He heard the Lord say: ‘I am a faithful God. Come to me.’”

The friar explains that we are healed so we can pay it forward, telling people what God did in our lives. He hopes that happens for those who come Aug. 3.

“I hope they walk away with a genuine sense of how close God is to them,” he says. “We know from the Scripture and out sacred tradition as Catholics how Christ draws near to those who are suffering and sick.”