Model of Grotto’s Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine shows how it is modeled on Spanish mission churches. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Model of Grotto’s Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine shows how it is modeled on Spanish mission churches. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Oregon’s Knights of Columbus are leading a drive to have a shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe constructed in the upper gardens at The Grotto, the large wooded Catholic sanctuary in Northeast Portland.

The shrine, an 8-by-12-foot chapel, will be modeled on the adobe mission churches built in Mexico and California in the colonial period. Inside the shrine will be tile murals telling the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego.

Plans call for a fall groundbreaking and completion by summer 2016. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe is patroness of the Americas and of the Knights of Columbus. She also is patroness of unborn children. In the famed image, given miraculously to an Indian peasant in the 16th century, Mary is pregnant.

For one Knight, the project’s aim is to glorify Jesus through the Mother of God, but it’s also personal. Joe Wiggins of St. Henry Parish in Gresham has his late wife Gloria in mind as he raises funds and spreads the word. Gloria, who died of cancer in 2011, was longtime manager of Catholic Charities’ El Programa Hispano and a leader of the Latino community.

“Building this shrine, for me, will be one way to honor her,” Wiggins says.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is special to Wiggins. He credits the virgin for helping him and Gloria come to terms with her illness. Six months before Gloria died, the couple visited the Basilica in Mexico City where the original Guadalupe image is housed. Wiggins has returned several times since.

“Every time I go, she shows me something different, but she always shows me hope,” Wiggins says.

Doug Klein, another Knight from St. Henry Parish, got the project started. He hopes Knights from around the state get involved and invested. Klein’s grandmother would bring him to The Grotto as a boy and he began volunteering there after a decade in the military. He recalls taking part in barn raising-type projects in The Philippines and hopes this shrine will have that spirit.

Gresham Knights are making the rounds to other Knights’ councils in the area, seeking the estimated $40,000 needed for the shrine. The Knights also are approaching Latino Catholics, who have a strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Grotto upper gardens have Lithuanian, Polish and Filipino shrines, with a Vietnamese shrine in the works. Wiggins says the images show how Mary appears to different people and how she loves us all. 

The Grotto, officially called the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, focuses on Mary as do the Servites, the friars who founded the sanctuary in 1924.

Servite Father Jack Topper, rector of The Grotto, has long wanted a Guadalupe shrine in the gardens. He says each depiction of Mary has an important story to tell. In the case of Our Lady of Guadalupe, she appeared to a peasant who was at first eschewed by Catholic leaders. 

To donate, go to or make a check out to “The Grotto — Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine project and mail it to P.O. Box 20008, Portland, OR 97294-0008.