The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption
The main entrance on the north side of the Grotto of the Redemption
|Location||300 N. Broadway|
West Bend, Iowa
GROTTO OF THE REDEMPTION Latitude and Longitude:
Father Paul Matthias
|Architectural style||Landscape Architicture|
|NRHP reference #||00001679 |
|Added to NRHP||February 23, 2001|
The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption is a religious shrine located in West Bend, Iowa, in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City. A conglomeration of nine grottos depicting scenes in the 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.   
The shrine includes a museum with precious and semiprecious stones from throughout the world, and photos and artifacts about the construction of the shrine.
Father Paul Dobberstein was a German immigrant 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 still continues 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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