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Cullman, Alabama: The Benedictine Abbey and the Ave Maria Grotto


About the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama:

Here in the South Eastern United States you will find one of the country’s most magnificent works. Often called “Jerusalem in Miniature” this 4-acre park is designed to provide a beautiful and peaceful setting for 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous shrines and holy sites throughout the world.

This is the first and only Benedictine Abbey in Alabama and the works on display here are a result of the efforts of Brother Joseph Zoetti, a monk of Saint Bernard Abbey. Brother Joseph was born in Bavaria in 1878 and came to the Abbey in 1892.

Just a portion of the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama...photo courtesy Wikimedia
Just a portion of the Grotto…photo courtesy Wikimedia

As Brother Joseph contemplated what building materials to use for his miniatures, God gave him the perfect answer. A train derailment caused a freight car full of marble from a nearby quarry to overturn and the marble was crushed, rendering it useless to the shipper. It was subsequently given to Saint Bernard’s and became the main building blocks of the grotto. As time went on people from all over the world sent items to Brother Joseph to use in building the many replicas at the Grotto.

The Monastery is open daily and has a gift shop, retreat center, rooms for overnight guests, dining facilities and more. There is an entrance fee, around $5-7 per person.

The Abbey is also home to Saint Bernard Preparatory School, a boarding and day school for grades 7-12.


Traveling to the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama:

Address: 1600 St Bernard Dr, Cullman, AL 35055

GPS coordinates: 34° 10′ 31.3356” N, 86° 48′ 59.1372” W

Tel: +1-256-734-4110 Click to call

Click here to visit the official website of the Ave Maria Grotto

Find restaurants and hotels in Hanceville, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

Note that Cullman is a short distance away from Mother Angelica’s Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Hanceville.

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