Grotto of the Redemption
West Bend, Iowa
A541-S6A - vintage
This 1960s packet was sold on location at The Grotto of the Redemption at West Bend, Iowa , the largest Grotto in the world. Frequently called "the Eighth Wonder of the World", the Grotto represents the largest collection of minerals and petrification concentrated in any one spot - in the world. The Grotto of the Redemption is a titanic landmark to the power of one's religious devotion.
As a young seminarian, Father Paul Dobberstein fell gravely ill with pneumonia, and promised to build a shrine to the Virgin Mary if she interceded for him. She liked the idea, and the young priest started his payback in 1912. He continued building this greatest of American grottoes until the moment of his death in 1954, when he laid down his trowel at the end of a long and likely strenuous day.
Near Saint Peter and Paul's Catholic Church in West Bend, nine grottoes tell the story of story of Redemption through Christ. Events - View-Masterry imaginable colorful mineral and crystal has been incorporated into this miraculous mound. There are few rocks found in west-central Iowa, so Father Dobberstein traveled to the mineral havens of Hot Springs and the South Dakota's Black Hills in search of materials for his vision. Massive amounts of stone were hauled here from hundreds of miles away, year after year, for a project that had no blueprint.
Visitors are dwarfed by encrusted towers and junk glass tapestries. Each new shiny pearl and chunk of pink quartz reaffirmed Dobberstein's devotion to the Mother of Christ, and her mysterious grotto plan.
Father Louis Greving (pictured in the packet at the 13th Station) was the creator's assistant for eight years, starting in 1946. Before dying, Dobberstein passed on verbal instructions to Greving on the unfinished work, including entire new grottoes. Greving carried on Dobberstein's labors, and celebrated 50 years of building in 1996. He has since retired. A few years earlier, it appeared to us that construction had slowed, and Greving was sidetracked by running hourly walk-through tours for visitors.
Now under the stewardship of Deacon Gerald Streit, new construction is clearly secondary to the need for maintenance and upkeep of the existing Grotto. Tours are still conducted, but repair and restoration work is outsourced to regional artisans. The grotto is "unfinished," the original vision now a century distant.
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