Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Grotto of the Redemption - a Great Visit

Located about 50 miles east of Forest City, IA, is West Bend , Iowa -- home of the Grotto of the Redemption which we heard was well worth a visit. This is also just a few miles east of Algona, home of the WWII POW Museum which we posted previously.

We did not know what to expect, but were amazed at what we found. The Grotto was designed and build due primarily to the work of a Catholic priest, Father Paul Dobberstein. He started the work in 1912 and for the next 40+ years, he worked on this shrine to Christ while also serving as the parish priest. As you can see, the scope of this work is huge.

Father Dobberstein was very interested in geology and collected a wide variety of minerals and precious stones to use in the grotto. The net effect is very moving and as you move through the grotto, you can reflect on the various areas, such as the 10 Commandments, birth of Christ, and the life of Christ.

Here, Orinda stands in a very small part of the Grotto that shows a few of the many unique stone structures.

This depiction of the tomb of Christ and his ascension, is typical of the rooms in the grotto. The rocks are carefully placed to draw attention to the main scene. and add great beauty to the view.

It is amazing to think that this entire area was Iowa farmland before Father Dobberstein began work. In a short video, the construction was described and we learned that no power tools were used until the 1950 era. Up until then, all the rock, concrete, and more were polished and mixed by hand.

We learned that all the rocks used in the grotto were collected by the Father from locations all over the world. During the cold winter, he would work at polishing them, sorting them and getting ready for the warmer summer when grotto construction took place. At the same time, he worked with the parish, started a Catholic school and helped build a new church. An amazing man!

One had to look carefully in each nook and room since there were surprises everywhere. For example, in the ceiling of this room, there were many angels looking down. The different colors seen in the room are the result of different minerals and rocks arranged in carefully designed patterns.

There were also several beautiful stained glass windows inset in the rooms. All in all, this was a very worthwhile stop and if you are ever in the northeast Iowa area, it is a must see.

1 comment:

squawmama said...

That's someplace we haven't been and will be putting that on my to see list!!! Thanks for the very interesting post and beautiful photos!
Have fun & Travel safe