A religious and patriotic shrine in Dickeyville, Wisc. is incredible work of art, awe-inspiring for travelers
The Grotto and Shines erected in the Village of Dickeyville, Wisc. on Holy Ghost Parish grounds are the works of Father Matthias Wernerus, a Catholic Priest. Rev. Wernerus was Pastor of the Parish from 1918 to 1931.
The Grotto is located along Main Street in Dickeyville, Wisc. It’s free to the public, but donations are welcome. A thrift store is open daily in the church’s basement for visitors.
A cemetary is located in the rear of the parish. Guided tours are available from June through August.
Father Wernerus worked on the shrine from 1925 to 1930. His handiwork is dedicated to the love of God and the love of country.
The Grotto is a creation in stone, mortar, and bright colored objects collected from all over the world. The Sacred Heart shrine is a reproduction of the altar erected in Soldiers’ Field in 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 Grotto features colored glass, gems, antique heirlooms of pottery or porcelain, stalagmites and stalactites, sea shells of all kinds, starfish, petrified sea urchins and fossils, and a variety of corals.
There is amber glass, agate, quartz, ores such as iron, copper and lead, fool’s gold, rock crystals, onyx, amethyst and coal. Many items are antiques. There is also some petrified wood and moss. Fun finds include old, stickshift knobs.
Father Wernerus constructed the religious and patriotic shrine without the use of blueprints.
There are several shrines in the Grotto garden. Besides the main shrine, which houses the grotto of the Blessed Virgin, there is a patriotic shrine, the sacramental shrine of the Holy Eucharist, the Sacred Heart shrine, Christ the King shrine, Fatima Shrine, and the Stations of the Cross.
Tree of Life shrine at the Grotto represents the Seven Gifts and the 12 Fruits of the Holy Ghost on the outside walls.
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.
For more information, visit the Grotto website here. All information courtesy of The Dickeyville Grotto.