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Pictures of Unique Religious Art Attraction ~ Dickeyville Grotto in Wisconsin

Updated on March 7, 2016

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 inspired Dickeyville Grotto changed all of that!

Dickeyville Grotto in Wisconsin

The ornate Dickeyville Grotto
The ornate Dickeyville Grotto | Source

Catholic Church

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.

Dickeyville Grotto

Dickeyville Grotto
Dickeyville Grotto | Source

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 included in this post share more of this clerical man's vision...both religious and well as showing much more of the work accomplished by him with the co-operation of the contributions from his parishioners and others as to the ingredients put into this work of art.

I would heartily suggest watching the videos below if this subject matter sparks any interest on your part.

Down in Dickeyville; part 1

Dickeyville Grotto

Dickeyville Grotto
Dickeyville Grotto | Source

Folk Art Supplies

Imbedded into concrete were many things which included this and more...







Petrified wood

Stalagmites and Stalactites


Antiques...and more!

The tree of life depiction to the right contains petrified wood and other elements already mentioned.

Down in Dickeyville; part 2

Dickeyville Grotto

Photo of my mother and niece at the Dickeyville Grotto
Photo of my mother and niece at the Dickeyville Grotto | Source

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 is surely an interesting collection of things artistically presented. At the most, it is 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.

Dickeyville Grotto

Dickeyville Grotto photo
Dickeyville Grotto photo | Source

Dickeyville Grotto

Cemetery at this Dickeyville Grotto church
Cemetery at this Dickeyville Grotto church | Source

Father Wernerus

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 1 and Father Wernerus initially started his creativity with what would ultimately blossom into what it is there today with a monument in the church cemetery. The three soldiers who had fought and died were memorialized and that picture is included to the right of this text.

As he progressed with his further handiwork, he instituted things like the American Flag, the American Eagle, memorializing Christopher Columbus and the like.

Dickeyville Grotto creator's gravesite

Gravesite of priest who created the Dickeyville Grotto
Gravesite of priest who created the Dickeyville Grotto | Source

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

A markerDickeyville Grotto -
305 W Main St, Dickeyville, WI 53808, USA
get directions

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.

Looking forward to your comments...

Dickeyville Grotto

Would you stop to see the Dickeyville Grotto if you were in the area?

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More Dickeyville Grotto photos...

Additional photos of the Dickeyville Grotto can be found HERE.

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 15 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

      Had we not been passing nearby on the road we would have missed knowing about it also. Sometimes discoveries are happenstance. Glad you liked learning about the Dickeyville Grotto.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 15 months ago

      Thank you. This is one of those places people wouldn't know existed unless they read about it. Thank you for posting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello ologsinquito,

      Glad to be able to share this grotto with you via pictures that I took. It is even more amazing to see in person. Appreciate your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi moonlake,

      Glad that I could introduce you to a site in your state of Wisconsin that you have not yet visited.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      This priest must have had a great love of Our Lady. What a beautiful shrine, at least judging from the pictures. I'll make sure to go to Dickeysville if I ever travel to Wisconsin.

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