History of Rudolph Grotto Gardens:
The Grotto was built as a fulfillment of a promise made by Philip Wagner while studying for the priesthood in Europe in 1912. With seriously failing health, Father visited Our Lady’s Shrine in Lourdes, France and promised to Mary that, if his heath were to be restored allowing him to be ordained, he would build a shrine in her honor some day. His condition slowly improved and as his strength returned, his courage revived. He came to realize that many would never have the opportunity to journey to places of spiritual importance, and it was in this realization that the beginnings of the Grotto were formed.
Philip Wagner became Father Wagner when he was ordained in 1915. In 1917, he was assigned to St. Philomena’s Church in Rudolph. In 1919, his work began when it was decided to build a new church that would be more centrally located in the village. Looking at the new parish grounds and at the rolling countryside he knew “This was it – the place I was looking for, where my dreams were to be realized”.
He had never built a wall in his life and didn’t even know how to mix mortar. Nevertheless, he began to plant trees. Flower bed construction and rock collection from the surrounding area soon followed. The first shrine was begun in 1927. Father Wagner had no building experience, but he was determined and had help from a 12 year old boy as things progressed….you can read the story here on their website.
About Rudolph Grotto Gardens:
The gardens and shrines here provide a spiritual setting where one can spend quiet moments contemplating the wonders of God and creation. It is very similar to the Grotto of the Redemption (Iowa) in history and design, although on a much smaller scale
The Grotto: Over the years, thousands of tons of rock were hauled from local farms and used to create the shrines and unique formations that make up the Grotto. There is a shrine to Saint Philomena and to Our Lady of Lourdes. Among its many attractions are the 14 Stations of the Cross located on the grounds.
The Wonder Cave a one-fifth-mile passageway featuring 26 shrines and was patterned after the catacombs in Rome. The hand-carved plaques and statues were made from the finest marble in the world in Carerra, Italy, to the exact specifications of Wagner. A variety of shells, marbles, tiles, and colored glass all give the Grotto its unique appearance.
Note: The Grotto Gardens are always open. The Cave, Gift Shop, Museum, and Chapel are open from Memorial Day through the end of October. See their website for details.
Traveling to Rudolph Grotto Gardens in Rudolph, Wisconsin:
Rudolph, Wisconsin is a little over 120 miles north of Madison and about 140 miles west of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin.
Address: 6957 Grotto Ave., Rudolph, WI 54475
Tel: (Gift Shop) (715) 435-3120
Click here for the official website of the Rudolph Grotto Gardens in Rudolph, Wisconsin. Be sure to watch the video on their website.