Father Paul Dobberstein (1872-1954) started construction of the Grotto in 1912. For 42 years he labored, winter and summer, setting ornamental rocks and gems into concrete. At the time of his death in 1954, his incredible Grotto of the Redemption covered one city block. Matt Szerensce (1894-1979), a parishioner, and Father Louis Greving (1921-2002), his successor, worked side-by-side with Father Dobberstein and furthered the work of Father Dobberstein after his death.The Grotto of the Redemption at West Bend, Iowa, is the largest Grotto in the world. Often called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, the Grotto represents a vast collection of minerals and stone— petrified wood, stalactite and stalagmite, malachite, jasper, quartz crystals and many more. Italian Mosaic and Carrara marble statues adorn the geological wonder. The Grotto is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Adjacent to the Grotto is Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. The Chrismas Chapel in the church is consid- ered to be Father Dobberstein’s finest work. It contains a Brazilian amethyst that weighs over 300 lbs. The theme of the Redemption is told in faceted stained glass win- dows in the church. A 22-foot bird’s-eye maple, hand carved altar which won first place at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 graces the sanctuary.
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