Plus, we’re still celebrating World Teachers Day.

⛪ Let’s talk about this cave sanctuary, Portland

Plus, we’re still celebrating World Teachers Day.

By Cassie Ruud

Welcome to Wednesday, Portland.

Let’s get weird — as we do every Wednesday in collaboration with the awesome folks at Weird Portland United

Today, we’re taking a stroll through a very serene garden and finding a sense of inner peace — a garden that came about because of the promise of a Canadian boy at the end of the 19th century. We’re talking about The Grotto, its history, and the tranquility it provides to Portlanders.

So if you’re finding yourself in times of trouble, scroll on down and let it be

⛪ A weird look at The Grotto Sanctuary

Courtesy of Another Believer / Wikimedia Commons

Tucked away in Portland’s Roseway neighborhood is a garden sanctuary built into a cave that folks call “The Grotto.” 

Another, more official, name for it is the Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, and it’s been a feature of our city for nearly a hundred years, showcasing lush gardens and statues of various Biblical figures. 

So how does a sanctuary like this wind up inside a cave here in Stumptown? Its origins began in Canada at the end of the 1800s when a small boy learned that his mother’s life was in jeopardy due to a complicated birth. The boy ran to his local church and prayed that his mother and sibling’s lives would be spared, and if so, he’d devote himself to doing great work for the church. 

Both his mother and baby sister survived, and the young boy went on to become Father Ambrose Mayer. In 1918, Ambrose joined the Servite Order and practiced as a pastor in Portland. He didn’t forget his childhood promise and would often speak of looking for a suitable place for a tribute to Mother Mary. Finally in 1923, he came across a quarry formed in a natural cathedral that would be a perfect site for this tribute. The cost was steep though, clocking in at $48,000, and Ambrose bid every penny of the $3,000 he’d brought with him as a down payment. 

In September of that year, construction began on The Grotto — a cave was carved out of the 110-foot basalt cliffside, and a stone altar was built with a depiction of Mary holding the body of her son after his crucifixion. A replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà was added several years later. And in 1924, the site held its first ever Mass for a crowd of 3,000. 

By 1983, The Grotto was officially designated as a national sanctuary, featuring a chapel alongside its many shrines. To this day, the sanctuary welcomes folks from all walks of life, both of faith and not, to wander through the gardens and find solace in its natural beauty and serenity. They’ve successfully held out throughout the pandemic and follow mask and social distancing mandates both during their Masses and within the gardens. 

Regardless of where your beliefs fall, a visit to The Grotto is absolutely worth your time. 

Thank you to our Bridgeliner Unabridged members. Stories like these are made possible with your membership and support.

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🌃 Join The Raven’s Wing for a salon on unlocking your cosmic consciousness (Online)

✔️ Meal plan for the fall and winter and talk about fresh, in season produce during this chill workshop (Online)

🌹 Help the Rose City Festival Foundation raise money for next year’s Rose Festival with this fun auction thru Oct. 13 (Online)

🍗 Chow down on some delicious wings with Portland Mercury’s Wing Week thru Oct. 10 (Across PDX)


🎵 Check out this free concert at Dawson Park, with live music by Alonzo Chadwick and Zoulful Music and a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic onsite (Eliot)


🕯️ Stretch it all out with this free Dynamic Vibration Yoga class (Online)


🚴Experience two whole days of wild CX racing with Bridge City CX (Oaks Park)

💌 Come learn about a new way to engage with others and yourself in a positive way with this workshop from Positive Inner Self (Online)

📸 Join Pro Photo Supply on a film photo walk through the streets of their Northwest neighborhood (Slabtown)


🚴Experience two whole days of wild CX racing with Bridge City CX (Oaks Park)


😴 Try this 5-day sleep challenge to get some better shut-eye with Heart Fire Healing (Online)

☕ Join Leadership Lab for their weekly Coffee & Connection Zoom meeting (Online)

Wednesday, October 13

🗣️ Join Portland Urban Debate Team as they celebrate their second year empowering students in advocacy, public policy, and critical thinking through debate (Online)

🃏 Hang out with Raven’s Wing for their monthly tarot salon with Iris, a reader for more than 25 years, leads a discussion of the tarot and it’s many magical meanings (Sellwood)

🙋 One more thing … 

Thank you for reading all the way to the end. 

Hey! Did you know that yesterday was World Teachers Day (my apologies for being late to the party on this one)? 

I have to say, this hits particularly close to home because your editor here comes from a long line of public school educators and staff, including both my folks (if that explains a lot, yeah, trust me, I get it 😅). I remember every fall my folks would encourage my little brother and I to write up a card (or several) for the teachers who’ve made a difference in our lives. 

So even though it’s a day late, it’s never a bad idea to hit up a teacher who helped you grow as a person, taught you something you’ve never forgotten, or who you miss — I promise that it will make a world of difference to them to know the impact they had for your education. 

And to all the current teachers out there trying to navigate education during these really weird years, you’ve got my undying admiration: You rock, keep going, and you are completely amazing.

Courtesy of Giphy

That’s all for today folks, catch you back here tomorrow. 

Virtual hugs,

Cassieat Bridgeliner

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