Before Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s order to “stay home, stay healthy,” The Grotto in Northeast Portland had opened its grounds to people who needed a refuge from coronavirus anxiety.

The sanctuary allowed guests to go to the upper gardens free of charge. It usually costs $8.

Many took advantage, keeping the prescribed social distance as they strolled the paths prayerfully, smelled flowers, stopped at wayside shrines and walked the labyrinth.

On March 21, The Grotto temporarily closed, with leaders calling it “very difficult decision.”

Staff have been sending out daily emails to further the spiritual lives of patrons. In “Bringing The Grotto to You” messages, readers can learn the history and meaning of certain sites or statues.

“We Servite friars miss praying with you at Mass at The Grotto,” said a note from Father Don Siple, the rector. “Be assured that each day you and your family are prayerfully remembered in prayer. Please send us your prayer requests and the names of those we can pray for in the days and weeks ahead. We love you and wish the Lord’s blessings upon you.”