May 6, 2013

5/3/13 - Ave Maria Grotto

Clarkson Covered Bridge
On the way to the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama, we made a short detour to the Clarkson Covered Bridge, which is one of the state's longest the covered truss bridges. (The two little dogs live nearby and escorted us around the park.)  There's also a little dogtrot (no pun intended) cabin and an old mill at the little county park.  Click here for more pictures.

The Ave Maria Grotto was created by Benedictine Monk Joseph Zoetl of St. Bernard Abbey.  His hobby was to make miniature replicas of famous religious buildings.
St. Peter's Basilica in Rome
Although not-to-scale, the reason is simple:  Brother Joseph had never seen the buildings himself.  He used postcards as his reference.  (We forget how difficult research was before Google.)

European Churches
Holy Land Scenes
Using cement, stones and lots of imagination, Brother Joseph built 125 miniatures on a hillside in a garden--a hobby that got out of control.  His other job was stoking the abbey's coal furnace, so he had a lot of boredom to alleviate. 
People donated shells, marbles, broken tiles, costume jewelry and other junk for him to use.  Besides the cathedrals and churches, he also built fanciful things like "Hansel and Gretel's Visit  to the Temple of the Fairies", complete with a dragon chained beneath it.
I think some of the shrines are a bit over the top, but some of them are pretty cool.  Some remind me of a Watts Tower in city-scape.  And some may even be a little tacky...
I told George that I wanted him to do something like this in our backyard--and then he can set up a little railroad track to go around the buildings.  I think he needs a hobby too.  He just looked at me.
For more pictures of the Grotto, click here:  Ave Marie Grotto 

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