While visiting the Grotto of Our Lady in Lourdes while in France, priest Philip Wagner prayed for his recuperation from a serious illness, promising that if he did recover he would build a shrine in Mary’s honor. In good health, Wagner erected a European-style shrine in Rudolph, WI, that includes acres of gardens, shrines, bridges, paths, and sculptures.
Wagner had a co-builder, 12-year-old Edmund Rybicki, help him on a steady basis. Edmund mixed the first batch of concrete and, in 1928, the Lourdes Shrine, the first in Wagner's Grotto, was completed. At first Edmund just brought the materials to Wagner, but eventually they became a team, designing and building from an imaginary plan they jointly devised.
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. The Wonder Cave is 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.
6975 Grotto Ave
Rudolph, WI 54555
(715) 435-3247 or (715) 459-5547
May 1–Oct 30, Daylight Hours