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.
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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.
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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