I would like to introduce you to a great priest I knew personally when I was a small child growing up in Wishaw, Lanarkshire Scotland and the Grotto that he built. The priest was Canon Thomas Nimmo Taylor, Parish Priest of St. Francis Xavier church in Carfin. The Grotto built and promoted by the Canon is now known internationally as "The Carfin Grotto". Canon Taylor was born in Greenock, Scotland on Tuesday 16th December, 1873. By the turn of the century the recently ordained Father Thomas N. Taylor was already well known in the older parishes existing on the lower stretches of the river Clyde. By 1912 his name was more than familiar, throughout the English speaking world, to the Devotees of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. For he was the tireless promoter of the cause of the wonder worker French Carmelite Nun, who died in 1897, the year of Father Taylor's ordination to the priesthood.
The Grotto at Carfin, founded by him in 1922, in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes, roused the fervor of the Catholics of the West of Scotland - this in turn gave rise to the unsought publicity of the press, which made the name of Father Taylor a household word throughout the British Isles.
In July 1920, a group from Carfin took part in the Scottish National Pilgrimage to Lourdes. The Pilgrimage over, it was decided to erect a small grotto, together with a Parochial Hall on an acre of ground across from the Church. On September 19th, the Sunday of the Dolores of Mary, the first sod was turned and the site duly blessed. On Sunday 1st October, 1922 the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Carfin Grotto was dedicated to Mary Immaculate. This day coincided with the Silver Jubilee of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who five and twenty years before had gone home to keep her promise that she would spend her heaven doing good upon the earth.
Let me end here by quoting Canon Taylor. "Perfection," he wrote, "could be achieved only by prayer and the constant sublimation of self, with its personal aims and ambitions, to the omnipotent wisdom of the divine plan." In this lay the path towards perfection. I will write more about Canon Taylor and the Carfin Grotto in future posts.