The Knights of Columbus of Onawa-Blencoe #6249 sponsored a pilgrimmage to 'The Grotto of The Redemption' in West Bend, Iowa on Sunday, September 23rd. The travelers rode in a very comfortable, luxurious motor coach provided by Windstar Lines of Carroll, Iowa. The Knights absorbed most of the vehicle expense as part of their service to their Church and family of parishioners.
Thirty-four adults and children from St. John's in Onawa, St. Bernard's in Blencoe and St. Joseph's in Salix enjoyed the smooth ride to tour what is frequently considered the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and which The Iowan magazine has described as a "Miracle in Stone".
Upon arrival in West Bend, the group celebrated Mass, officiated by Fr. Patrick O'Kane, in historic Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church next door to the Grotto. This church is itself a beautiful structure with an ornate Birds-Eye Maple altar. Following Mass the group enjoyed a delicious buffet served by a courteous staff in the Grotto's restaurant.
The 'Grotto of the Redemption', celebrating its 100th anniversary, is actually a composite of nine separate Grottos, each portraying a scene in the life of Christ. It includes the largest collection of precious stones and gems found anywhere in one location. The highest point, forty feet above the ground, is the Thirteenth Station of the Cross featuring a large crucifix and a replica of the Pieta.
Father Paul Dobberstein began building the Grotto in 1912, stone by stone, and in 1946 was joined by Father Louis Greving who continued on with the vision after Fr. Dobberstein died in 1954. After eighty years of construction, the Grotto was considered complete and includes many marvelous marble sculptures. Though Fr. Greving retired in 1994 and died in 2002, the masterpiece-in-stone continues to impact the lives of visitors and the message it inspires is beyond words.
The Grotto was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 and has been included in such features as Roadside America and Disney's The Straight Story and the History Channel's Weird U.S. More information on the Grotto and a photograph/video gallery can be seen at http://www.westbendgrotto.com/.