The Grotto in Portland, Oregon is a 62 acre place of meditation, counseling and spirituality for the area’s Roman Catholics who seek to renew their faith in God or to seek help for problems in their lives. Every year the Grotto offers a blessing of the animals in addition to a festival of lights around Christmas. This year, some vandals attacked some of the most valuable statues at the spiritual retreat, chopping the heads off statues of the Virgin Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus that were more than 100 years old, made in Italy, and may cost up to $500,000 to replace.
The official name of carved rock shrine to the Virgin Mary is The National Sanctuary Of Our Sorrowful Mother, and this year is especially sad because of the outrageous and expensive damage done to these more than century old statues. The Statues were made from Italian Carrara marble.
Every year, almost miraculously, animals appear to be quite tame and well behaved during the blessing of the animals event held each Summer at this popular religious retreat. It is an incredible sight to see dogs not bark at each other or other animal misbehavior. It’s almost as if the animals are also responding to spirituality of the Grotto as well.
But, the vandalism attacks at this holy site seem to beg a question of why? If some former Catholic was a former victim of abuse, then this holy site offers healing to those persons. This holy shrine and the particular priests who work there likely had absolutely nothing to do with anything that may have motivated some angry vandal to attack the site. But, the possibility of the vandalism being some sort of hate crime rather than some juvenile delinquent act still exists. Eventually, some suspect is likely to be arrested. And that will be a whole new story right there.
But, despite this vandalism attack, this holy shrine still rates as one of the greatest religious shrines in the entire United States, and is more than worthy for persons of all faiths to visit this shrine as a tourist and to be awed by the beauty and peace of this major religious site.
One of the unique features of the Catholic faith is the number of shrines attributed to the Virgin Mary, including smaller shrines to the Virgin Mary in the homes of many Mexican American Catholics as well. However, other Christians such as Protestants don’t have the same spiritual empathizes on Mary that Catholics do. Many Bible scholars will tell you that Mary and Joseph had a normal marital relationship where the apostle James was actually one of the brothers of Jesus, although the exact number of brothers and sisters of Jesus are not known. However, most Protestants along with Catholics believe that Jesus was the son of God born from the Virgin Mary, and not from any natural relationship with her husband, Joseph. How much of this story is just religious mythology and how much is factual will likely always remain a mystery for the ages. But, The New Testament, for example, names four brothers of Jesus that include James, Joseph, Judas(who wrote the book Jude in the Bible), and Simon, although officially the Catholic Church tends to ignore parts of the Bible that conflict with it’s church teachings and beliefs. All of which seems to prove that various Christian sects operate much like cults, developing their own truths, regardless of what the Bible actually teaches about any subject.