People from around the globe are making the journey to the northwest Iowa town of West Bend to see the holiday version of the world-reknown Grotto of the Redemption. Grotto director Rhonda Miller says a priest who fell critically ill with pneumonia promised if he survived to build a lasting tribute.
Father Paul Dobberstien started construction of the Grotto in 1912 and worked on it for more than 40 years, until another priest took over. Miller says it’s the culmination of decades of work. Miller says the Grotto is “magical” because northwest Iowa is relatively flat and it’s amazing to drive up and see a mountain made of rocks from all over the world, particularly at this time of year, since there’s a special holiday light display and a Nativity scene, “making Christ the reason for the season.”
She says visitors have continually made the pilgrimage to West Bend to tour the Grotto and pray there. Miller says 33-thousand people visited the Grotto this year from at least 45 states in the U.S. and from nearly 50 other countries, making it a draw for tourists both nationally and internationally. She says the man who initially devoted so much of his life to building the Grotto used a vast collection of minerals and stones in the construction, including geodes, jasper, topaz, calcite, stalactites and stalagmites.
Father Dobberstein got rocks from all over the U.S. and around the world to build the nine different Grottos, telling the story of Christ’s life in stone using carved marble statuary, semi-precious stones, agates, quartz and petrified wood. For more information, call 800-868-3641 or surf to “www.westbendgrotto.com”.
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West Bend Grotto