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Mini Jerusalem in Cullman, Alabama

Updated on April 10, 2017

My pictures of The Ava Maria Grotto

Mini Jerusalem or Ava Marie Grotto is several acres of religious scenes that are miniature in size.
Mini Jerusalem or Ava Marie Grotto is several acres of religious scenes that are miniature in size. | Source
Another picture from the cemetary. A Church sits behind Mini Jerusalem's graveyard. It's an amazing statue.  The grounds are really breathtaking and peaceful.
Another picture from the cemetary. A Church sits behind Mini Jerusalem's graveyard. It's an amazing statue. The grounds are really breathtaking and peaceful. | Source
This is a picture of the chapel and the cemetary. It's actually a very serene scene. I took this and the other pictures with my IPad and it was moving seeing the inside of the chapel.
This is a picture of the chapel and the cemetary. It's actually a very serene scene. I took this and the other pictures with my IPad and it was moving seeing the inside of the chapel. | Source
This particular picture is of Mary holding Jesus in her arms.  This is also in the chapel along with a kneeling board.
This particular picture is of Mary holding Jesus in her arms. This is also in the chapel along with a kneeling board. | Source
A replica of Jesus on the cross. This Crucifix is tall and towers above the graveyard. This is a peaceful place to visit.
A replica of Jesus on the cross. This Crucifix is tall and towers above the graveyard. This is a peaceful place to visit. | Source
Stained glass window from the small church that is located in the middle of the cemetary.
Stained glass window from the small church that is located in the middle of the cemetary. | Source

Facts About: Ava Maria Grotto

I have lived in Alabama all of my life and have always passed signs for the Ava Maria Grotto on the interstate. I have always wanted to go see what the signs were talking about. This tourist attraction is an amazing place to visit in Alabama. It is located in Cullman, AL. That is relatively close to most all everyone in the central and north parts of Alabama.

I remember the dreadful day in April 27, 2011, that slammed into the state of Alabama. When I was fortunate enough to get to visit the Ava Maria Grotto, I thought it was amazing that the tornadoes hit so close, and I mean really close as large as the storm was that hit the Cullman area but yet, still didn't hit the Grotto. The Ava Maria Grotto was not touched in the least. As far, as those storms go it could only be God, that protected his work.

The Ava Grotto was a great spot to learn about different religious statues. The Grotto was created by Joseph Zoettel and spent 50 years crafting what most of us would call, "plain 'ole junk" into beautiful works of art. He would construct different religious sculptures to depict different scenes and stories from the Bible. When people realized his talent and his dedication to sculpting, they would send him scrap objects of various materials. Before he started sculpting at Saint Bernard Abbey, he was known for sculpting ash trays, small statues and crucifixes.

Some of the objects that were sent to Brother Joseph Zoettel were colored glass, marble, cold cream jars, punctured commode floats, wrecked marble, broken bathroom tile, costume jewelry, sand, mortar, shells gifts from every state of the union and from many of the foreign countries also.

History of The Grotto

Ava Maria Grotto builder of the miniatures was a Benedictine Monk. Brother Joseph Zoettl. Brother Zoettl, was born in Bavaria in 1878. He was seriously injured in an accident that left him with a hunchback. He came to Saint Bernard Abbey in 1892 where the first replicas were done on the Monastery grounds but, they were so popular and that area couldn't handle all of the traffic. So, a new site was selected on May 17, 1934. The Ava Maria Grotto was at that time was moved to the large location where it's at today. There are one hundred twenty five miniatures, reproductions of famous churches, buildings and shrines. At only three acres of land, this site brings visitors from all over the world.

As you first arrive, there is a gift shop where you pay a small fee to view the grounds. Begin with the short video describing the Grotto and it's history. The video is about one-two minute long and is very informative before you enter the garden. There is a brochure that you will be given that explains each and every sculpture, cross, angel, scene from the Bible and more. You are left to go on a self guided tour of the Ava Maria Grotto and you are allowed to take video or pictures.

Gift Shop

The grounds of Saint Bernard Abbey houses a really large gift shop and you can also pick up a souvenir or two while you are there. Some of the following things are found at the gift shop: crucifixes, bibles, purses, bible covers, music, religious pocket coins, rosaries/chaplets, Holy Water and Holy Water bottles.

A Spiritual Journey

As I took my trip to Ava Maria Grotto, I was struck by a very peaceful place. The grounds are peaceful, the trails through The Grotto itself are peaceful. The same event happened to us while on our trip to The Ava Maria Grotto, on two separate occasions. A monk was feeding the ducks or fish, in the same place and a monk was walking down one of the roads again, just like our first trip to the area. We just thought it a neat coincidence.

A welcome center is there for visitors to arrive at and begin the tour. This is where the story begins for the overnight visitors. It's such a peaceful and humbling experience visiting the man made replication of some of the world's most religious areas and moments.

You just feel better when visiting this Shrine to the past and present. It's very moving and all the miniatures are articulately made and you can tell it took lots of time and handmade craftsmanship. Whether your a Christian, Jew or Muslim this Shrine is a place for all to come and pray.

If you have ever been to the Ava Maria Grotto I would love to know what you think of it. Leave comments in the box at the bottom of this page.

Manger Scene

The Ava Maria Gratto has a miniature Manger scene with Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the wise men. Taking pictures is allowed and even encouraged.
The Ava Maria Gratto has a miniature Manger scene with Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the wise men. Taking pictures is allowed and even encouraged. | Source

Mini Jerusalem in Cullman, Alabama

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© 2012 Buster Johnson

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    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I travel to Alabama a lot i wil make plans to go visit this.. great hub

      Welcome to the hub.. I will share this on facebook

      I am Deborah Brooks Langford on facebook

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image

      Mazzy Bolero 4 years ago from the U.K.

      Amazing place! I would love to see Alabama. Maybe one day .....

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      Leslie, I found this by accident today. I love you pictures. Unfortunately when my Aunt Rene took us to the Ava Maria Grotto, I was a child and did not have a camera to take the pictures, my pictures came from my Aunt after she passed away in 2001.

      I will link to this hub in mine, hope you do not mind.

      Voted up, ABI and shared.

      Shyron

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