Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother
by Zsolt Aradi
The Servite Fathers dedicate their whole life to the veneration, to the service of Our Lady. The order originated with seven young Italian aristocrats in Florence who had a vision granted by the Holy Virgin in the year 1233. All seven made the vow that they would spread the devotion to Our Sorrowful Mother throughout the world. Their society, founded for this purpose, has remained faithful to the vow of the seven founders, all of whom were subsequently canonized by the Church.
The Servite Fathers have many monasteries in the United States, but the sanctuary they began to build in Portland in 1926 is in many ways unique. The sanctuary has been conceived as a large place of spiritual recreation. It is vast in every respect. Surrounded by gigantic fir trees, it extends on two levels: the lower level centers around a grotto with a marble replica of Michelangelo's Pieta, and above the grotto, placed on a 150-foot pillar on a high cliff, the bronze statue of Our Lady of Sorrows watches over the country far and wide; the view reaches the Columbia Valley and when the weather is clear as far as Mount Saint Helena. The lower level enshrines a set of woodcarvings representing the seven sorrows. A chapel dedicated to St. Anne, the Mother of the Holy Virgin, and a statue to St. Joseph with the child Jesus, complete the sanctuary. The realization of the idea, with the entire story related in sculpture of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, implemented with the Chapel of St. Anne and the Grove of St. Joseph, is a truly original conception of a sanctuary. These shrines are primarily expressions of living faith. Shrines and churches must be part of daily life, closely related to our thoughts and deeds. The great sanctuary in Portland, Oregon, located in the midst of the busy life of a city, is a splendid example of this. Its dynamic proportions inspire and serve many thousands of people as a place for intimate prayer in this land of tall pines and snow-clad mountains.
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