Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Grotto of the Redemption,Iowa

A pretty pond in front of the entrance to the grotto
(click into ALL pictures to see them bigger!)


The Grotto of the Redemption
is a religious monument located in West Bend, Iowa, in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City. A conglomeration of nine grottos depicting scenes in life of Jesus, the Grotto contains a large collection of minerals and petrifications and is believed to be the largest grotto in the world. It is also "considered to be the world's most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells, and petrifications in one place." The total value of all the rocks and minerals which make up the Grotto is over $4,308,000. Over 100,000 people visit the Grotto each year.


Beautiful religious sculptures (angels) are greeting you by the entrance to the grottoes


Most architects and contractors would hesitate a long time before undertaking a project such as the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend. It is doubtful whether it can or ever will be duplicated. The sheer bulk of the achievement is startling when we consider that two men did most of the manual labor and Father Dobberstein did practically all of the artistic endeavor single-handed.
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The love of precious stones is deeply implanted in the human heart, and the cause of this must be sought not only in their coloring and brilliancy but also in their durability. All the fall colors of flowers and foliage, even the blue of the sky and glory of the sunset clouds, only last for a short time and are subject to continual changes, but the sheen and color of precious stones are the same today as they were thousands of years ago...
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Father Paul Dobberstein
was a German imigrant ordained in 1897. He became critically ill with pneumonia and promised to build a shrine to the Virgin Mary if she interceded for him. After his recovery, he began stockpiling rocks and precious stones. Construction of the Grotto began in 1912 and continued year round for 42 years.

Father Dobberstein used the knowledge and skills gained during construction of his first grotto honoring Our Lady of Lourdes, while training at St. Francis Seminary in St. Francis, Wisconsin. His method was to set fancy rocks and gems into concrete. In 1946, Father Louis Greving began helping Dobberstein with the construction. The Grotto covered an area the size of a city block when Dobberstein died in 1954. Matt Szerensce helped work on the Grotto until his retirement in 1959. Construction continues to this day and has been maintained by Deacon Gerald Streit since 1994.

Father Dobberstein's works inspired Mathias Wernerus (who also attended St. Francis Seminary) to build the Dickeyville Grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin in 1930, thus starting the grotto building movement in America.


Pretty "flowers" made with gemstones from all over the world


Pretty creations with rose quartz and other pieces


The spirit of prayer that prevails the whole atmosphere here giving it the air of a sanctuary must have impressed any one who has approached the Grotto. It is for this reason that no rules are laid down for behavior of the visitor. This is a religious shrine. It is understood that the visitors avoid boisterousness and shouting so that others may reap the full spiritual benefit of their visit.
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Hi my friends,

I'm back.... :) we were some days up in Iowa's heart land or also called "the food capital of the world" - and we have visited there very nice family members of David. It was a nice and enjoyable time - also for me.

But, after three days it's time to move on and we drove to a very special place: "The Grotto of Redemption" in West Bend,IA. Do you know this place?

We both are not very religious people but this place has something to show that I can't say, it's now really amazing and beautiful or it's just kitsch. But for sure it's an enormous big work behind all these creations of Father P. Dobberstein, no question about that!!

Have a look your self, click in the links and click in my photos to see them all bigger. I liked the colors of all those gems so much and I admire people who can be so focused their whole life long on a big and exciting project like this. :)

I have another question: Does any one of you out there knows where I can find real Amish populations in Iowa - let me know, if you do. I would love to do some photos! :)

Stay with me and see you soon!
Susanne and David

8 comments:

tricia said...

Very interesting place. Great close-ups.

Adam Dilip Mutum said...

Really amazing. I guess something like this can only be built with love and faith.

Sandy said...

I have been to the Grotto several times. We live in Iowa and it is about an hour from where we live. It is a very unique place and worth seeing. Our best friends live a few blocks from there. You have great pictures of it.

Dakota Bear said...

Its amazing.

Great pictures to capture the visual.

GMG said...

Hi Sue! This is absolutely amazing! It could look a bit kitsch, but amazing anyhow!!
Buffalo Bill looks the same as in 1982... ;))
Love to travel with you!!!

Now, do you want to see Trakai? Blogtrotter has it… Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Marcie said...

Am amazed at how far you've travelled. Love the images of the gemstones. What beauties!!!

Carole said...

What a beautiful pretty place it is. you have captured it's magnificence well

Anna said...

OMG Susanne I will make a note of this place. Duplicate this place, I also think 'not'. Excellent and informative post. Wow lot of work went into this grotto. Anna :)

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