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Dickeyville Grotto in Wisconsin ~ Photos of Unique Religious Folk Art Attraction
American Folk Art
Sometimes when traveling, one comes across a unique attraction and that is exactly what my mother, niece and I experienced when traveling through Wisconsin and discovering the Dickeyville Grotto.
It certainly fits the description of folk art and it is certainly American inspired.
Dickeyville, Wisconsin is a small town in the southwest corner of the State.
Were it not for the Dickeyville Grotto, most folks who do not live there or at least nearby would probably pass by without giving it a second thought. It would simply be another place on the map alongside the road that they were traversing.
The folk art of a priest which inspired the Dickeyville Grotto changed all of that!
Were it not for the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Ghost Parish located in Dickeyville, Wisconsin and the inspiration of the parish priest who resided there for a while, Dickeyville might still be overlooked by travelers in that part of the State.
After all, according to the 2000 census there were only a total of 1,043 residents living on less than a full square mile of acreage.
But because of the artistic efforts of Father Matthias Wernerus, Dickeyville has now become an attraction for visitors to that small town.
Love of God and Love of Country
Religious symbols as well as patriotic symbols are intertwined in the unique folk art creation that came about due to the parish priest's inspiration and hard work of many years.
Several YouTube videos are included in this post. They share more of this clerical man's vision both religious and patriotic. Viewing them also shows much more of the work accomplished by him than the few photos shown here.
It was with the cooperation and contributions from his parishioners and others that account for all of the assorted pieces collected and then assembled that this work of art came into being.
I would heartily suggest watching the videos below if this subject matter sparks any interest on your part.
Folk Art Supplies
Embedded into concrete were many things which included these and more.
- Petrified wood
- Stalagmites and Stalactites
- Antiques...and more!
The tree of life depiction below contains petrified wood and other elements already mentioned.
My mother, niece and I were traveling between the States of Mississippi, Iowa and Wisconsin visiting relatives and friends that particular year.
Always on the lookout for special attractions along the way, we discovered the Dickeyville Grotto and stopped to take a look.
At the very least it is surely an interesting collection of things artistically presented. It is very inspirational for some.
That was surely the intent of its creator Father Matthias Wernerus who spent five years of his life creating this series of grotto's.
Originally a European who came to America to practice his priesthood, Father Wernerus was extremely patriotic.
The small town of Dickeyville lost three of their sons in World War I.
Father Wernerus initially started his creativity with what would ultimately blossom into what it is there today including a monument in the church cemetery. The three soldiers who had fought and died were memorialized and that picture is shown below.
As he progressed with his further handiwork, he instituted things like the American Flag, the American Eagle, memorializing Christopher Columbus and the like.
Faith and Religious Symbols
Obviously the main thrust of Father Matthias Wernerus' endeavors were to express his religious beliefs.
Jesus Christ, the Cross, Mary (the mother of Jesus) and other religious symbols were featured in this mixture of bits of coral, glass, rocks and other things set into concrete creating this unique and notable site in Dickeyville.
Succumbing to pneumonia one year after finishing his labor of love, Father Matthias Wernerus now resides in the cemetery along with many of his deceased parishioners adjacent to his Holy Ghost Parish Church.
He would like that final resting spot I am certain.
Location of Dickeyville, Grotto
You now know a bit about this unique Wisconsin attraction called the Dickeyville Grotto if you were previously unfamiliar.
I hope that you enjoyed these pictures, links and videos.
Would you stop to see the Dickeyville Grotto if you were in the area?
© 2010 Peggy Woods