August 16: The Grotto

August 16: We take Nancy to see The Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother in NE Portland.  It is a Catholic sanctuary and garden run by the Monks of the Servite Order which opened in 1924 where a rock Grotto was carved out and which still holds outdoor services today.  The Grotto is touted as a “place of solitude, peace and prayer”.  The 62 acre Sanctuary has woods, gardens, multiple chapels, religious art and sculptures, shrines to Mary (the Sorrowful Mother) from all nations and cultures, a labyrinth and the Servite Monastery.  It truly was a place of peace and solitude and we could not have asked for a more beautiful day to walk around and take in the sights.

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Entering the Grotto, passing by the gift shop. We’ll be back!
Calvary Scene, a white marble sculpture depicting the death of Jesus, made in Italy and brought here in 1951.
Surrounded by ferns, trees, flowers and moss, these marble panels are set in volcanic rock from Battle Ground, WA.
St. Philip Benizi’s Retreat: an early Servite, St. Philip chose to live the life of a hermit in the mountains of Italy rather than serve as Pope. He ate only herbs and drank at a fountain and the water from this fountain is said to have healing powers.
The Grotto: 30 feet wide, 30 feet deep and 50 feet high, it was carved in 1923. The Mother’s Day Mass is the most popular event held here, the tradition began in 1930 and has been held ever since. Sunday mass is held here May-September.
Above the altar is a replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta which was placed here in 1946, made of Carrara marble and made when he was only 24 years old. The original is at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The statue depicts Mary holding Jesus on her arms, “Pieta” is Italian for “sorrow”.
The Grotto is flanked by prayer candles on each side. I wish I knew, I would have brought one for Mom, Dad, Nana and Bocky.



St. Peregrine Mosaic: a brother in the order of the Servants of Mary, he was diagnosed with cancer of the leg from years of standing during prayer and varicose veins. As the story goes, “on the night before the scheduled amputation of his leg, Peregrine dragged himself to the foot of the cross at the community chapter room and fell into a deep, trance-like sleep. Upon waking he discovered that his leg was completely cured.” (notice the gash in his leg in the mosaic)








Walking into the circular area with bronze panels depicting the 14 Stations of the Cross. Most Catholic churches have portrayals of the Stations and are a popular devotion during Lent. They give worshipers guidance, comfort and inspiration.
“Whoa is me, the Son of God!”
Familiar symbols in the Catholic tradition: a dove, the sheep and cross, Jesus ascending, a crown and a panel with heavenly symbols used by all religions and cultures- the sun, moon and stars.
The Greatest Story Ever told- the immaculate conception, birth of Jesus, the Holy Family and Jesus as a boy.
We take the ten-story elevator to the upper level of the Grotto, originally built in 1929 but thankfully refurbished in 1986.
The Meditation Chapel: built in 1991, it rises from Rocky Butte where the glass wall lets you view Oregon, Washington and across the Columbia River Valley, where on a clear day you can see Mt. St. Helen’s and Mount Rainer.
The view from the chapel, looking NW over Portland and to Vancouver, WA in the distance. Below us is the Chapel of Mary. We will see this on our way out.






The center of this building is part of a cross that when lit at night, can be seen from Rt. 205 coming south from Vancouver to Portland. Inside (not well lit in this picture) is another, rare bronze copy of Michelangelo’s Pieta. It is one of only 12 copies created from the original.


St. Anne’s Chapel: This little building honors the mother of Mary with many paintings of the Madonna.
This painting depicts the founding seven holy members of the Servants of Mary. “Together, these seven prominent men in Florentine society, gave up their influential lives, fortunes, and oftentimes marriages, to consecrate themselves to Our Blessed Mother, and serve others at her direction.” “Together, on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in 1240, Our Lady appeared to them carrying a black habit, and a nearby angel bore a scroll reading Servants of Mary. She told them: “You will found a new Order, and you will be my witnesses throughout the world. This is your name: Servants of Mary. This is your rule: that of Saint Augustine. And here is your distinctive sign: the black scapular, in memory of my sufferings at the foot of the Cross.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe.




The painful Virgin. Veneration of the Sorrowful Mother on Mount Calvary.


The Monastery, completed in 1936, where the Servite friars live. They tend to the rose garden right outside their door, so peaceful and elegant.
“The rose garden has produced many award-winning roses for many years.” Many of the roses have been dedicated to honor people’s mothers. The statue in the center is of the Assumption of Mary, which is believed by many that upon her death, Mary was “assumed” into heaven.



Our Lady of Lavang Vietnamese Shrine: this shrine honors the “apparition of Mary that appeared to Vietnamese Catholics as they hid in the jungle during the final years of the 18th century to avoid persecution for their faith.”
Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe: (under construction) here Nancy poses as St. Maria who appeared in 1531 to Juan Diego, an Aztec who converted to the Catholic faith after seeing her and being instructed to build a temple on the spot to her. She gives him multiple signs and the most well known is the painting of her standing on a crescent moon (an Aztec symbol) with her arms folded in prayer. The shrine still stands today in what is now Mexico City.
Our Lady of Czestochowa Polish Shrine: this shrine holds a replica of the “Black Madonna”, the original image has been darkened by centuries of soot from candles and incense. This icon has protected Constantinople, was slashed by an arrow and sword, and has been said to bring death upon anyone who tries to move it. Pope John Paul II prayed in front of it in his three visits to Poland.
The start of the labyrinth, the rock says, “Welcome to the Grotto Labyrinth, a replica of the medieval labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France. Use the labyrinth as a meditative walk, a spiritual pilgrimage, or a healing journey. As you begin your walk, open your heart and mind to the presence of God. Follow the single path at your own pace in silence. If you encounter others, simply let them pass. The path leads to the center, a place of prayer and insight. Return when you are ready, follow the path out. May God be with you as you journey through life.”
Nancy and I on the journey…

The Chapel of Mary: Dedicated in 1955 built of rock from the Rocky Butte Quarry, it has an 110 foot bell tower, with a gold dome and cross. You can see it in the picture from the Medication Chapel.  Above the door is a portrayal of Christ’s baptism. The stained glass window depicts the resurrection of Christ.
Inside the Chapel of Mary: The paintings inside were done by Jose De Soto who painted for churches in the US and Europe. He also painted movie sets for 20th Century Fox! Above the altar is the “Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mother in Heaven”.









This stained glass window depicts the Resurrection of Christ, is 25 feet tall and was made in 1954.



Image result for portland grotto cross lit up mediation chapel night
(Not my pic but…) this is what the cross on the Mediation Chapel looks like lit up at night. We’ve seen it coming over Rt. 205 on our way to the airport in the early morning.

In case you want to visit, check out their website:  We wanted to go back for the Festival of Lights (not THAT Festival of Lights, silly!) but it was canceled due to icy weather this year.  Oh well, next year!

On to lunch…  We hit up some nearby food trucks for a must-do in Portland before Nancy goes home.

Eating at Rose City Food Park, we can each get whatever cuisine we want! YUM!!!
So many to choose from! And we can sit at the picnic benches under the tents.  It’s nice to sit after walking the 62 acres of the Grotto.
Nancy chooses Asian.
Bacon and PDX, a perfect match! I choose a gyro from Istanbul Delight and Ron gets Chili Rellenos.

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