The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, located in Portland, Oregon, is commonly known as “The Grotto.” It is a 62-acre Catholic shrine and botanical garden operated by the Order of Friars Servants of Mary, USA Province, and is funded by donations and the proceeds from its gift shop. The sanctuary is open year-round, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas after Mass.
The story of The Grotto begins with Father Ambrose Mayer, who as a young boy prayed for his mother’s life after she gave birth to his sister. He promised to undertake a great work for the Church if his mother survived, and he fulfilled his promise when he became a priest with the Servite Order. Father Mayer searched for a suitable site on which to build a tribute to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and found a rugged, untamed wilderness owned by the Union Pacific Railroad Company in 1923. He saw this as a natural cathedral that was perfect for his dream.
Despite the asking price of $48,000, Father Mayer bid all that he had, $3,000, as an initial down payment. A national campaign provided the balance of the funds. On May 29, 1924, the sanctuary was dedicated with the first Mass, and more than three thousand people attended. The chapel was designed by L.L. Dougan of Dougan & Heims, Architects and was dedicated in 1955.
The Grotto was designated a National Sanctuary in 1983, and more than ten million visitors have marveled at the sanctuary’s spiritual and natural beauty. People of all faiths and no faith are welcomed to experience the peace that the sanctuary provides. The dream of one man has become the ministry of all who serve here, and The Grotto continues to grow and meet the needs of people in an ever-changing world.
Two Masses are held daily, with the noon Mass held outside in the Grotto if weather permits. During December, the sanctuary hosts the Christmas Festival of Lights, lighting up the sanctuary in the evenings through Christmas.
Visitors can take the Tri-met bus 12, which stops directly in front of The Grotto on 84th and NE Sandy, or park in the lot. Upon entering, visitors will find a large gift shop where they can purchase tickets to go to the upper garden.
8840 NE Skidmore St,
Photos by jpldesigns/depositphotos.com, Rigucci/depositphotos.com.
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