Reflecting on our historic North American pilgrimage with the Pilgrim Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa thus far, I am continually awed by the devotion of pro-life faithful to Our Lady. More than 30 devoted and inspired pro-life pilgrims welcomed the Black Madonna upon our arrival at the Planned Parenthood in Olympia, Washington.
This was our first stop on July 22 after traveling from Tacoma. Rain would not deter our prayers for the protection of life from conception until natural death and for the defense of the family. I led the Rosary and gave a brief presentation about the pilgrim icon. Ed Sauley, who runs the Show the Truth Tour in Washington, joined us with his truck that has displayed anti-abortion signs that witness to the truth that abortion mills are misrepresented as “reproductive health clinics”.
After our prayer vigil, we drove two hours to Portland, Oregon, to bring the pilgrim icon to a Marian shrine and monastery staffed by The Order of Friars Servants of Mary, USA Province. Honoring our Blessed Mother, The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, otherwise known as “The Grotto”, receives over 200,000 pilgrims annually. The Servite Fathers operate the botanical sanctuary, as well as offer spiritual direction, educational ministries, and counseling. Upon our arrival, the Servite Fathers and other faithful welcomed the Black Madonna for evening Mass on this historic Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in the Defense of Life. How appropriate for the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa to travel to such a holy place! Our two-day visit on July 22-23 provided for us a great opportunity for solitude, peace, and prayer.
With rain predicted the following day, we wasted no time exploring the 62-acre oasis. We met people of many different ethnicities, many who attend Mass regularly at the chapel and who have created shrines honoring Our Lady in their own traditions. These include Our Lady of Dambana (Filipino), Our Lady of Lavang (Vietnamese), and of course, Our Lady of Czestochowa. A shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe is under construction. We found it easy to pray contemplatively as we walked through the Rosary garden where stations represent the Joyful, Sorrowful, Luminous, and Glorious Mysteries. We discovered 34 wood carvings within the Via Matris, an area dedicated to Our Sorrowful Mother, and a meditation chapel that offered an impressive view of Portland. Had we arrived during the Christmas season, we would have experienced one of the Grotto’s most important events: the Festival of Lights. Highly attended, the annual event showcases a beautiful display of lights, which anticipates the Light of the World coming into the world — Christ, our Savior, the Word made flesh.
The following day, the faithful venerated the Black Madonna after noon Mass. We were moved when a group of Polish residents showed up in their traditional vestments to sing hymns in honor of Our Lady of Czestochowa — a wonderful send-off for our trek to Northern California. We encourage those in the Portland area to see this special place where Marian devotion and the love of Our Jesus reigns.