The Grotto of the Redemption amazes all - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

The Grotto of the Redemption amazes all


We continue our "One Tank Getaway" series, bringing you nearby attractions that won't break the bank.

"It's just amazing."

The Grotto of the Redemption is located in West Bend, Iowa.

"As far as we know it's the largest man-made grotto in the world," said Darcie Kramer, Executive Director.

The rock palace covers more than one city block and is made by all rocks. Father Paul Dobberstein was the creator and artist of The Grotto.

The German priest came to the U.S. when he was about 20 years old, but before he was ordained he became critically ill with pneumonia.

"There was no penicillin to cure him and so he started to pray. He prayed to God and through the intercession of Mary that he became well. He promised through the grace of health he would build a shrine to honor Mary," said Kramer.

And that is what he did, building the rock castle for the Virgin Mary. After a decade of collecting rocks, the shrine started to take shape in 1912. Sadly, Fr. Dobberstein couldn't finish his work before he passed away in 1954. He did though pass the vision on to Fr. Greving who was able to finish it.

"Fr. Greving came in 1946. He learned what he needed to do because Fr. Dobberstein didn't write anything down so he had to verbally tell Fr. Greving how to finish the Grotto and the last piece was built up in 1992," said Kramer.

The Grotto took nearly 80 years to make. Every rock, stone, and artifact came from a different place in the world. But if you're asking how many rocks make up the Grotto. That may be a tough question.

"When people ask me that question I usually say you start counting and let me know when you're done," said Kramer.

It's the rocks that make The Grotto not only a sacred place, but also a geological classroom.

Amazing even the youngest guests.

"He traveled around the world, America just so he could find rocks to put in places around the Grotto," said Keanan Black, tourist.

The Grotto is open year round and is lit at night until 10. Tours are free, just free will donation.

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