I mentioned in the previous post that we stopped at the Dickeyville Grotto. What a strange place. It was all built over a 5 year span by Father Mathius Wernerus. The date on the grotto itself is 1929, but I don't know if that's when he started or when he finished. I can't even imagine the amount of labor that went in to building this thing. I took a bunch of pictures, but they don't really show the magnitude of the undertaking.
Here's the main structure. I couldn't get far enough away to get all of it in the photo. Everything is encrusted with colored stones, broken glass and who knows what else. Inside is a shrine that is pretty impressive, but it's all behind glass and hard to get any good pictures as a result. The theme of the Grotto is religion and patriotism. I wasn't aware that they were related, but what the heck.
Each one of the little niches has its own display depicting something or other.
Here's one of my favorites, although I'm not sure what bunnies and squirrels have to do with either religion or patriotism.
Nor do I understand how a kid wearing a dorky hat and oversized boots while smoking a pipe is relevant.
And what's the deal with the antlers?
Christopher Columbus just screams religion and patriotism, don't you think?
I've got lots more, but you probably don't need to see them all. To really experience the, umm, amazing bizarreness that is the Dickeyville Grotto, you have to see it in person. So, next time you're in the vicinity of Dickeyville, be sure to stop for a look. Don't worry, though, because...
There's no Norwegians in Dickeyville.
There's none in the valley, there's none on the hill.
There never was and there never will
be no Norwegians in Dickeyville.
(Lyrics from "There's No Norwegians In Dickeyville" by The Goose Island Ramblers, who happen to be one of my all-time favorite bands.)