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Grotto of the Redemption Facts

The Grotto of the Redemption at West Bend, Iowa  is the largest Grotto in the world. It is frequently considered "the Eighth Wonder of the World."  It represents the largest collection of minerals and petrification concentrated in any one spot - in the world. The Grotto has an estimated geological value over $4,308,000.00.

Father Paul Dobberstein spent his life working for the Kingdom of God through heart and hand. He was ordained on June 21, 1898 and began constructing the Grotto in 1912. He passed away July 24, 1954.

Father Louis Greving, Honorary Chairman of The Grotto: Gathering for the Millennium, was ordained to the priesthood on June 15, 1946.  He came to West Bend and worked with Father Dobberstein for eight years. Father Greving continued the work and care of the Grotto after Father Dobberstein's death.  He is now retired and resides in West Bend.  Father's spirituality is known by many.  He continues his travels to inspire and preach the ways of Christ.

The Grotto of the Redemption is visited annually by an estimated 100,000 people.  This includes 100 bus tours, 50 school tours, and several handicapped groups. Since 1912, 6,000,000 people have visited the Grotto of the Redemption.  Visitors come from all over the world.

Origin and Inspiration for the Great Work

    The story of how the Grotto came into being is as moving as are the scenes it portrays. It is generally told as a fact that as a young seminarian, Father Paul Dobberstein became critically ill with pneumonia.  As he fought for his life he prayed to the Blessed Virgin to intercede for him.  He promised to build a shrine in her honor if he lived.  The illness passed, the student completed his studies and after his ordination he came to West Bend in 1889.  For over a decade he stockpiled rocks and precious stones. The actual work of giving permanence to his promise began to take shape in 1912 and continued until his death in 1954.
    Father Louis Greving, successor to Father Dobberstein wrote in the early '80s, "By the providence of God I spent my priesthood of some 45 years (since 1946) in the shadow of the Grotto of the Redemption. The Grotto is a monument of faith, hope and love that once lived in the mind and heart of Father Paul Dobberstein. I consider it a privilege to carry out his plan as best I can."  Father Greving completed a number of the grottos left unfinished by Father Dobberstein and added a public address system to further enhance the telling of the Good News.
    The builder of the Grotto hopes, by visualizing in stone the fundamentals of a Christian religion, to induce the visitors here to be not only idle hearers, but also contemplative thinkers and courageous doers of the Word of Christ.  The heart of man is usually more quickly reached through the eye than through the ear. The builder was confident that the finished product would speak for itself. Thus he was animated by the spirit of the psalm, "I shall be satisfied when Thy Glory cometh."