Grotto May Day celebration highlights

A cherished 30-year tradition, the Annual May Day Celebration was held at the historic Our Mother of Sorrows Grotto on the Mount Mercy campus between 1928 and 1958. The annual celebration included the crowning of a May Queen, music and Isadora Duncan style dance performances, tableaux re-enactments of historic scenes, and many photo opportunities.

In 2012- 2014 the Mount Mercy University Art Club, Music Department, Choir and band members re-enacted this tradition in all its glory. Art Students presented a 1920s Isadora Duncan scarf dance, May Pole dancing and door prizes while the Choir sang songs from that era. The entire Mound Farm Neighborhood and Cedar Rapids community members were invited to attend. Guests were treated to historic and geological tours of the William Lightner’s historic Grotto. There was free popcorn and punch for all. This event was sponsored in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts ARTWORKS program.

View more photos of the event.


Kennedy High School art students

In 2013 Mount Mercy art professors Jane Gilmor and David Van Allen invited Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School art teacher Patty Walsh’s advanced photography students to do a project at the Our Mother of Sorrows Grotto. After workshops with Photography professor Van Allen, the students took photos over a period of several weeks. Each submitted their best work to be considered for use on the MMU web site’s Grotto page. Here are the top picks, chosen from several hundred wonderful images!

This event was sponsored in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts ARTWORKS program.

Fourth graders visit The Grotto

As part of our National Endowment for the Arts ARTWORKS Grant outreach Mount Mercy introduced fourth graders for two Cedar Rapids Elementary Schools, Arthur and Erskine, to William Lightner’s Our Mother of Sorrows Grotto. In workshops, students toured the Grotto and heard a brief history of the site. MMU Art students shared stories from the Sisters of Mercy and from people in the neighborhood, then invited the fourth graders to create drawings of the Grotto. The results are amazingly varied and full of creative inspiration just like the Grotto itself.

This event was sponsored in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts ARTWORKS program.


These Grotto events were sponsored, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts ARTWORKS program.