Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Portland's Grotto

You cannot help but feel at peace there.

Although not Catholic this summer I visited The Grotto in Portland, OR. My cousin had told me about it last fall and after visiting her in a hospice house in Vancouver last month I decided that I would go and was very glad I did.

When you drive into the Grotto parking lot and step out of your car, you leave behind the city—the world. Regardless of your religious inclination the feeling of peace and serenity settles around you like a soft blanket. The huge Doug Firs and rhododendrons absorb the noise of the city and perhaps the prayers of the millions of visitors since Father Ambrose Mayer brought to fruition in 1924 a promise he had made to God as a child—to do something great for the Church.

The Grotto itself is carved from an old Union Pacific Railway quarry which Fr. Mayer, a Canadian Catholic priets, made a down payment of $3,000 and his faith in 1923. An altar stands in the carved out rock hillside with a copy of Michelangelo’s Pietà above. The Church of Our Sorrowful Mother stands just beyond the Grotto. Being of limited time that particular day I did not go into the church nor explore the extensive grounds that include an elevator ride to the top of the grotto, but I did go into the gift shop, purchase a candle and light it for my cousin, asking for an easy passage for her.

From the website you will see that there are many beautiful services done throughout the year including one on August 15th for the celebration of what Catholics believe was the assumption of Mary into heaven. Religiously eclectic myself, I must admit to feeling the appeal of focus on the feminine aspect of spirituality and would recommend a visit to Portland’s Grotto regardless of your spiritual persuasion. It is hard to believe that you are in the midst of a large city and you cannot help but feel at peace there.


Miss Mary said...

The Grotto is a special place for me. In the last 5 years or so of her life, my mother Eva tended the roses in the upper garden. She also volunteered in the gift shop. There is even a plaque there honoring her. I haven't been there in several years but I remember how shady and cool it was on hot summer days.

Jo said...

Wow! Your words brought the picture to life. One can't help but want to visit this spot and see for oneself. A lovely spot, beautifully depicted in words. Thank you.