Since its introduction in 1965, Nutella became an instant sensation enjoyed today by millions around the world, so much so that enough jars are produced in a single year to circle the world nearly two times. It might surprise you to learn that founder and inventor Michele Ferrero credits all of his success to Our Lady of Lourdes.

Michele Ferrero, the late founder of the world famous Ferrero confectionery company and inventor of Nutella, was a humble man who preferred to stay out of the spotlight – his company has been called one of the world’s most secretive firms. Few know that he was a fiercely devout Catholic endowed with a strong faith.

Michele Ferrero had a particularly strong devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. He ensured every one of the company’s offices and factories in Italy and abroad had at least one statue of the Madonna. Every year, he would visit the shrine of Our Lady at Lourdes, and would organize pilgrimages for his employees to visit as well. In fact, not only is the popular Ferrero Rocher praline named after the shrine, but even its design was inspired by it as well.

The craggy grotto at the shine to Our Lady of Lourdes is called the Rocher de Massabielle, whose appearance inspired the design and name of the popular praline treat. It isn’t hard to imagine the candy, a rough nutty surface with a hollow interior, resembling that of the sacred grotto of Lourdes.

Rocher de Massabielle at Lourdes.

In 1996 when he celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of Ferrero, he revealed the sole reason for his success:

“Everything that I have accomplished I owe to Our Lady of Lourdes, to Mary. I have always placed myself in her hands and I thank her. I pray to her every morning and this gives me strength. Without her we can do little.”

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