Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption

The Grotto is frequently considered the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and The Iowan magazine has described the Grotto as a “miracle in stone.” The location was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 and has been included in such features as Roadside America and Disney’s The Straight Story. A composite of nine separate grottos, each portrait displays a scene in the life of Christ.

Father Dobberstein’s first and only account of the Grotto is undated but it is thought to have appeared around the year 1936. From the time that the structure began to attract attention, it was always called “The Grotto of the Redemption.”

Those who have traveled in parts of Europe are familiar with the religious atmosphere of grottos. Grotto differs from caves only in this that the openings near the surface of a vertical barrier are referred to as grottos. Cave or caverns may extend for miles under the surface and may or may not be high enough for a person to walk into comfortably. The builder of the Grotto hopes, by visualizing in stone the fundamentals of the Christian religion, to induce the visitors here, to be not only the idle hearers but also to contemplative thinkers and courageous doers of the word of Christ.

The heart of man is usually more quickly reached through the eye than through the ear. The builder was confident that the finished project would speak for itself.

Thus he was animated by the spirit of the psalm, “I shall be satisfied when Thy Glory cometh.”


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