Dickeyville Grotto

Eucharistic Altar

The Eucharistic Altar or Grotto of the Holy Eucharist is located in the corner of the cemetery nearest the church. The altar was completed by Father Wernerus in 1924, the second rock construction completed. While the lower levels of the outside columns are a restrained covering of densely packed quartz and bands of green broken glass, the rooftop is a covered with a wild encrustation of large seashells and random chunks of opaque broken glass. But it is the dimly lit alcove which invites us to come forward to see closer. Rich gold mosaic tiles and more seashells front the altar around a circle of stone gearshift knobs.

On top of the altar, small dark rocks like grapes are set in a white band around the small niche where a tiny mosaic of a chalice is entirely surrounded by gold mosaic tile. Even in the dim light, the gold reflects so strongly that the niche appears to be glowing from within. There is a dramatic interplay between the natural light from outside the alcove and the reflected light from within that makes this simple altar really much more of a mystical grotto type structure. Its easy to see how this altar inspired Father Wernerus to try for something bigger. Soon after completing this, he started work on the Grotto of Christ the King and Mary.

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presented by Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi


Copyright ©2012 Matt Bergstrom