Grotto of the Redemption

West Bend, Iowa

wb-night.jpg (108728 bytes) Like Bro. Joseph, Paul Dobberstein emigrated from southern Germany in 1892. Five years later, he had almost completed his studies for the priesthood when he fell critically ill with pneumonia. He promised the Holy Mother to build a shrine in her honor if he recovered. His health returned, and once ordained he went to head a parish in a small German town in northwest Iowa. 
Soon his health returned, and once ordained he went to head a parish in a small German town in northwest Iowa. Fr. Dobberstein built up the parish of Sts. Peter & Paul in West Bend by starting the first Catholic school in the region. With the devoted help of an early graduate, Matt Szerensce, he began building the shrine complex in 1912. Farmers brought wagonloads of field stones. Train cars brought stalactites and crystals from Carlsbad and the Black Hills, which Fr. Dobberstein visited before they were protected areas. wb-crystalmount.jpg (146335 bytes)

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Often working through the night, Fr. Dobberstein continued enlarging the grotto environment until his death in 1954; Scerensce kept on into the 1960s. Fr. Louis Greving, who joined the team in 1946, has kept the project going with several new structures. After completing the Stations of the Cross, he built an encrusted gift shop and workshop. 

Interior dome
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From Ft. Dodge, Iowa, take US 169 north 43 miles to Algona, then US 18 west 8 miles to Rt. 15 south. In another 8 miles you'll see the grotto.

South gate
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Off US 169 in Humboldt, look for the rose quartz and jasper memorial Fr. Dobberstein built in John Brown Park.

The grotto has a free campground; the bath house is encrusted with white stones, REST ROOMS & SHOWER in black.

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wb-crystalmoonsm.jpg (19406 bytes) Parishioners serve a home-cooked buffet in the Grotto Cafe. 

When we visited in  1991, Rev. Greving was still giving tours, while a tape cycled chiming hymns.

Always open. Illuminated.


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Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly