Why is there a candle grotto in the Marian Garden? | University of Portland

Why is there a candle grotto in the Marian Garden?

It is a long standing tradition in Catholic, as well as other religious traditions, to light a candle as a physical representation of one’s prayers. For many years though, the UP campus did not have a regular place to practice this tradition. That is until November 2019 when a new candle grotto was installed, dedicated, and blessed in the Marian Garden next to the Chapel of Christ the Teacher. The new space was crafted out of cedar, brass, and copper by two local sculptors and will now provide a space for members of the campus community to go at any time of the day or year to light a candle. A purple candle will always be lit and in place, representing our prayers for the whole of the University of Portland community.

For Christians, the tradition of lighting a candle is closely linked to the idea that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. At the Easter Vigil, a large candle is lit in the darkness of the opening of the Mass. It is a representation of the wonder of the light of Christ entering into our world. From that candle, all of the baptized light their own candles noting that the light of Christ has come to dwell in them. Situating our candle grotto in close proximity to the statue of Mary in the garden next to the Chapel is a reminder that the light of Christ came into the world through Mary. That light continues to break forth upon the world through each of us and our prayers. We draw close to the Blessed Mother, Mary, as we offer our prayers knowing that through her intercession and witness that light grows in the world this day.