Servites at The Grotto

The Order of Servants of Mary (The Servites)

The Order of Servants of Mary is a religious family that embraces a membership of friars (priests and brothers), contemplative nuns, a congregation of active sisters and lay groups. The Servites lead a community life in the tradition of the mendicant orders (such as the Dominicans and Franciscans).

The Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, is a ministry of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary.

History of the Order

The Servite Order was founded in 1233 AD when a group of cloth merchants from Florence, Italy, left their city, families and professions to retire on a mountain known as Monte Senario for a life of poverty and penance. These men are known as the Seven Holy Founders, and were canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII.

Others joined the first seven on the mountain, known as the “Friar Servants of Mary,” and as the group began to grow, the seeds of the new religious Order took root.

From the beginning, the members of the Order dedicated themselves to Mary under her title of Mother of Sorrows.

Through the centuries, the Servite Order has spread throughout the world, including all of Europe, parts of Africa, Australia, the Americas, India and the Philippines.

The general headquarters of the Servite Order is in Rome, while many provinces and motherhouses represent the Order throughout the world. In the United States, there is one province of friars with headquarters in Chicago.

The Servites Mission

As Servite friars, we gather in fraternal communion as a small community of priests and brothers to be with those suffering and sorrowful.

With Mary as our model and St. Peregrine as our companion, we commit ourselves in a particular way to comfort those who suffer and are alone, especially those burdened with cancer and other serious illness. We strive to heal the broken and reconcile those in our world divided by age, nationality, race, religion, wealth, and education.

Outdoor Mass

Servite Ministry at The Grotto

The story of The Grotto begins at the end of the 19th century, with a young boy who learned that his mother lay near death after giving birth to a daughter. In tears, the boy ran to the little parish church in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. He prayed for his mother’s life, promising that if she were spared he would one day undertake a great work for the Church. Both his mother and baby sister survived.

The future Father Ambrose Mayer never forgot his promise.

As a young man Ambrose joined the Servite Order and in 1918 was sent to minister as the first Servite pastor in

Oregon. He carried with him the desire to fulfill his childhood promise, often disclosing to his associates his dream of finding a site on which to build a suitable tribute to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Servite Ministry at The Grotto

Fr. Mayer came across some acreage in 1923 which was owned by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. The property was a rugged, untamed wilderness that was once a quarry used to obtain rock for rail beds, and was currently scheduled for sale as residential property. He saw this as a natural cathedral which, once cleaned up, was perfect for the realization of his dream.

The Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother (The Grotto) was dedicated on May 29, 1924, and to this day, The Grotto is a ministry of the Servite Friars.
To learn more about Servite Fr. Ambrose Mayer and the history of The Grotto, stay tuned for a future installment of this series. If you can’t wait, click here to go to our website.

Mass at The Grotto

The Servite Friars celebrate Mass every day of the year in the Chapel of Mary. From May-October, the Sunday noon Mass is celebrated outdoors, in The Grotto Plaza, weather permitting. (Outdoor Mass temporarily suspended due to Covid-19 number restrictions.)

For our complete Mass schedule, click here.

For now, Masses at The Grotto are suspended through April 14, 2020, following the guidance of Archbishop Alexander K. Sample. Please keep checking our website,, for updates.

Additional Servite Ministries at The Grotto

Throughout the year, the Servites host book discussion groups, scripture studies, and casual talks, as well as seasonal retreats.

There is a priest’s office in the Visitor Center where you can frequently find a Servite who can chat with you or bless and item.

Some of these ministries are currently offered online during the pandemic.

For more information about Servite Ministries, go to our website.

A Prayer for the Servites

Father, bless your servants who minister under the inspiration of Mary.

Grant them strength as they bring your compassionate love to your people.

Bless them with good health, increase their community, and let their faith be hope to all.


The Grotto Monastery

The monastery is the home of the Servite Friars who minister at the Grotto. In the early years, the Servite community lived in a house off the property on Beech Street, but in 1935 the foundation was laid for this permanent dwelling.

The monastery was completed in 1936 and can accommodate up to twelve priests and brothers. The rock exterior is sandstone from Winlock, Washington.

The monastery was renovated in 1985 through the generous donations of many. In 1990, a convent was built behind the monastery which houses four Sisters from the Congregation of Oblates of St. Martha, based in Saltillo, Mexico.

Visitors to The Grotto Upper Gardens get the pleasure of viewing the exterior of this beautiful monastery, as they walk through the rose garden in its front yard. For more on the rose garden, stay tuned for a future insallment of “Bringing The Grotto to You.”

Servite Vocations

The Servites have no particular limits to their apostolic work, but are present where there is a need to serve. Servite friars can be found in parishes, schools, hospitals, universities and colleges (both religious and public), and shrines dedicated to Our Sorrowful Mother, such as The Grotto.

For more information about vocations contact Fr. Don Siple, OSM, at 503-254-7371. (You may experience a delay in response during the closure.)