Grotto of the Redemption

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The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption
Grotto of the Redemption.jpg
The main entrance on the north side of the Grotto of the Redemption
Grotto of the Redemption is located in Iowa
Grotto of the Redemption
Grotto of the Redemption is located in the United States
Grotto of the Redemption
Location300 N. Broadway
West Bend, Iowa
Coordinates42°57′50″N 94°26′44″W / 42.96389°N 94.44556°W / 42.96389; -94.44556Coordinates: 42°57′50″N 94°26′44″W / 42.96389°N 94.44556°W / 42.96389; -94.44556
ArchitectPaul Dobberstein
Father Paul Matthias
Architectural styleLandscape Architicture
NRHP reference No.00001679 [1]
Added to NRHPFebruary 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.[2]

It is also "considered to be the world's most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells, and petrifications in one place."[3] The total value of all the rocks and minerals which make up the Grotto is over $4,308,000.[4][5] Over 100,000 people visit the Grotto each year.[3][6][7]

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.[8] He became critically ill with pneumonia and promised to build a shrine to the Virgin Mary if she interceded for him.[9][10] After his recovery, he began stockpiling rocks and precious stones.[11] Construction of the grotto began in 1912[11][12] 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.[12] 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.[3][13] The Grotto 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,[2][4][14] thus starting the grotto building movement in America.[4][15]

As of August 1, 2015, the grotto has been raised to the status of diocesan shrine by R. Walker Nickless, Bishop of Sioux City. This is the first Catholic religious shrine designated in the diocese. ==Setting== West Bend is located in the center of a vast, lunch, level expanse of Iowa farmland. WIse, industrious, and fairly prosperous farmers populate the surrounding area. It is located northwest of Fort Dodge about midway between the busy state highways: number 18 to the north and number 20 to the south. On most road maps, West Bend is marked as the site of the Grotto of the Redemption. It might seem odd that here where scarcely any type of rock is known, not to mention any deposits of precious geological specimens, that this collection of unique stone should be found. However, it is merely the play divine providence that determined the setting in this particular place. This site was chosen because the Bishop decided to send Father Dobberstein to that particular parish, located in West Bend.

In popular culture[edit]

The Grotto of the Redemption is featured in the David Lynch film The Straight Story.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2011-05-13.
  2. ^ a b Grotto of the Redemption Archived 2013-06-05 at the Wayback Machine,
  3. ^ a b c Iowa Tourism / Northwest / Grotto Of The Redemption - West Bend, Iowa,
  4. ^ a b c Grottos of the Midwest: Religion and Patriotism in Stone Archived 2008-10-07 at the Wayback Machine, by Peyton Smith,
  5. ^ cited as over $4 million: Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend, Iowa,
  6. ^ West Bend, Iowa: grotto of the redemption - West Bend, Iowa home to the Grotto of the Redemption a work of love and art depicting the life of Christ by Father Dobberstein Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine,
  7. ^ Passing the Torch Archived 2009-02-16 at the Wayback Machine,
  8. ^ The Artist-Father Dobberstein Archived 2009-02-14 at the Wayback Machine,
  9. ^ Grotto of the Redemption History,
  10. ^ Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend, Iowa,
  11. ^ a b Origin and Inspiration for the Great Work Archived 2009-02-14 at the Wayback Machine,
  12. ^ a b West Bend - Sts. Peter and Paul Archived 2008-10-14 at the Wayback Machine,
  13. ^ Detour Art Atlas | Artist Detail Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine,
  14. ^ History of Providence Home Health Care Center of Jasper,
  15. ^ Grotto of the Redemption Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine,

External links[edit]