The Grotto – National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother

Located in Portland, Oregon, The Grotto is a 62-acre Catholic sanctuary and botanical garden. Daily Mass is held for visitors, and the grounds are filled with lush plant life, statues, water features, and thoughtfully designed buildings.

Tranquil prayer areas are set up throughout the grounds. It is a place to connect to nature and be at peace spiritually.


Father Ambrose Mayer had a dream of building a sanctuary to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus. After his own mother was spared her life following complications during the birth of his sister, Father Mayer devoted his life to serving God.

In 1923, Father Mayer came across 64 acres of land for sale in Portland, Oregon. It was a wilderness, once a rock quarry for building railroads. With all the money he had and the help of a national campaign, he won the bid for the land.

After months of work turning the 110-foot rock quarry into a natural cathedral with a stone altar, the sanctuary opened in 1924. More than 3,000 people gathered for the first mass and dedication ceremony.

In 1983, it was designated a National Sanctuary. And still today, Mass is held daily at the sanctuary to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus, and uphold the vision of Father Mayer.

Visit The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

The grounds, gift shop, and visitor center are open daily for visitors from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Sunday Mass is held at 10 a.m. and noon. Daily mass is held at noon. During the warmer months in Portland, Mass is held outside in the serene Grotto Plaza.

Holidays may affect these times; see posted changes.

The lower level is free to enter. Admission to the beautiful botanical gardens, known as the Upper Gardens, is listed below:

Adult: $9.95

Senior (65+): $8.95

Youth (6-11): $4.95

How to Get There

Located in Northeast Portland, the main entrance to The Grotto is Northeast Sandy Blvd. & 85th St.It is most easily accessed by car, and the full address for GPS is:

8840 NE Skidmore Street, Portland, OR 97220

For those arriving via public transportation, there is a bus stop at Northeast Sandy Blvd. at the entrance of The Grotto. Bus 12 goes directly to this stop from the heart of Portland.

Nearby Attractions in Portland, OR

The Grotto is about a 20-minute drive from the center of Portland and all its interesting and unique attractions. For example, if you are out and about on the weekend, check out one of Portland’s many Farmer’s Markets to experience some local food and shop locally made goods.

If you enjoyed the gardens of The Grotto, Portland has many outstanding gardens to enjoy. The Portland Japanese Garden and International Rose Test Garden are both located in Washington park near the center of Portland. It is a delightful place to walk around and enjoy the day.

Final Thoughts

Visitors to The Grotto – National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, describe a tranquil and relaxed feeling upon entering. As one of the top attractions in Portland, Oregon, people visit worldwide to experience the peace and the connection to spirituality that the sanctuary offers.

Enjoy a day walking through the sprawling grounds or connect with the local Catholic community at a daily Mass service – the choice is up to you! Either way, you’ll have a relaxing afternoon strolling the grounds to look forward to.


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