Scaffolding covers the chapel at The Grotto as restoration gets under way Jan. 8. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Scaffolding covers the chapel at The Grotto as restoration gets under way Jan. 8. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
The chapel at The Grotto, one of the most visited churches in Oregon, is temporarily closed for restoration.

Built in 1954, the chapel is “in serious need of repair and refreshment,” said Servite Father Vidal Martinez, rector of the 62-acre sanctuary.

Father Martinez said paint is in poor condition and art is dim with age and dirt. Flooring is damaged and pews need repair.

“The sound system is old and inefficient, and the lighting is inadequate,” Father Martinez said.

The church tower also will get work to repair water damage and increase stability.

The closure began Jan. 4 and is expected to run at least to April.

“We realize and understand that closing the chapel will disappoint many, but we must remember that, for the safety of all, and for the work to be done efficiently, this closing must take place,” Father Martinez said.

In lieu of Mass in the chapel, the Servite friars will livestream liturgy from their monastery in the upper gardens each day at 10 a.m. The Grotto YouTube channel will maintain recorded archives of the Masses.

Chris Blanchard, executive director of The Grotto, said it made sense to do the work during the pandemic, when church attendance is limited. In a normal year, almost 120,000 people visit the chapel for Mass or prayer.

Blanchard said a trust fund and individual gifts were designated for the work, but more support is always welcome.