The word Grotto means an artificial cavern or cave. The entire Grotto is dedicated to the virtues of religion and patriotism. On Sunday, September 14, 1930 the Grotto and Shrines were dedicated in Dickeyville, Wisconsin. No accurate record of the amount of stone was kept, but it is known that six or seven truck loads of thirty tons each were gathered from the Dakotas, from Iowa, and from nearby Wisconsin quarries.
FATHER WERNERUS, The Builder in Action
To help you better understand the work of the builder, we have chosen to quote from a booklet he prepared about 1929. We will begin with the Forward he wrote:
"Visitors to the Grotto will find...the answer to the many and various questions with which they approach the busy builder. Read the explanations, and you will have a fair idea of what you saw at Dickeyville. The work is not finished yet. In all probability it will take at least two more years to put the finishing touch to this great and unusual work for God and Country."
"It is about five years now that this work was started. Many reasons urged me to put up 'Religion in stone and Patriotism in Stone.' The main reason why it was done I could not reveal. The last day will tell you more about that. I can only say that Almighty God and his Blessed Mother, in whose honor we worked, blessed us in such a way that 'we built better than we knew.' Thanks to His almost visible blessing from Heaven, we made the formerly unknown village the point of attraction for countless thousands of people. God's wonderful material collected from all parts of the world has been piled up in such a way that it appeals to rich and poor, to educated and uneducated, to men, women and children alike. Future generations will still enjoy the fruit of our labor and will bless the man that conceived and built this thing. Thanks be to God."
"I wish to take this opportunity to offer my sincerest thanks to the many friends and benefactors that encouraged and helped me in this great work. A special word of thanks I must express here to my dear cousin and housekeeper who helped me every day during the last five years in my tremendously big undertaking. She now helps me to get out of debt, and I hope, and I pray that we will live and see the day when the work is finished and paid for. May the gracious Lord bless her and all my friends and benefactors and give to them a hundredfold what they gave to me."
Rev. Matthias Wernerus
MAIN GROTTO (Shrine of the Blessed Virgin)
The Main Grotto (pictured in the title frame) was last shrine completed by Father Wernerus and contains within it the shrine of the Blessed Virgin (pictured at left). On either side of the main grotto is a pillar fashioned of Rose Quartz from South Dakota, one crowned with an American Flag and the other with the Papal Flag; Patriotism and Religion. On the face of the arch of the Grotto, inlaid in stone, are the fifteen decades of the Rosary, the official prayer of the Mother of God. The statue is made of Italian White Carrara Marble and was sculptured in Europe. On the face of this little altar there is inlaid a very small cross with was made by the first Indian Convert Father Marquette, the missionary priest who discovered the Mississippi River. The walls of the interior are inlaid with precious stones from all over the world, along with beautiful shells and rare corals.
SACRED HEART Shrine
What you see pictutred here is a fine reproduction of the altar erected in Soldiers' Field (Chicago) on the occasion of the International Eucharistic Congress in 1926, which in turn was fashioned after the altar in the famous church of St. Paul outside the Walls, in Rome. The inscription reads: "Bless us, oh Sacred Heart, now and forever." The four pillars supporting the dome are made of rock from New Mexico, and are banded in colored glass. The altar incorporated in this shrine was used on the feast of Corpus Christi.
ALTAR OF HOLY EUCHARIST Shrine
This beautiful little shrine serves as a repository altar for the Corpus Christi Procession. The Grapes and the Wheat symbols incorporated in the altar are in honor of the Holy Eucharist.
THE FLOWER POT
Visitors from far and near again and again told the builder that the flower pots that stand on either side of the Holy Ghost Church are some of the most beautiful they have ever seen.
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