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Christopher Columbus in Patriotism Shrine

Father Mathias Wernerus

Dickeyville /  Christopher Columbus in Patriotism Shrine


The Dickeyville Grotto, in Dickeyville, Wisconsin, is a classic example of the Midwestern grotto tradition. Constructed between 1918 and 1931 by Mathius Wernerus, the German-born priest of the local parish, the Grotto exemplifies the faith of its builder as well as his vision of a patriotic ideal.

Father Wernerus used concrete, poured into slabs or modeled around metal forms, to shape his handiworks, and studded the surface with colorful bits of glass, carefully-chosen stone, shells, and other materials. As a Catholic priest of a German-American parish, Father Wernerus portrayed the two themes of religion and patriotism in his work.

The "Patriotism Shrine" is a composition at Dickeyville that centers on Christopher Columbus.
In this composition, a statue of Columbus is framed by an arch studded with abalone shells and blue glass.

The focus on a patriotic theme rather than a purely religious one made the Grotto an attractive tourist destination. Still popular today, it was visited by up to 40,000 visitors annually during the 1920s and 1930s, and some visitors were inspired to replicate Father Wernerus' handiworks.

This monument on postcards

Click here for the postcard(s) and enlargement(s)


Sources & Information


Locatie (N 42°37'36" - W 90°35'32")

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Item Code: uswi04; Added: 1 January 2000

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