Thursday, July 10, 2008

Field Trip: Cullman, Alabama

In the early 1930s Benedictine monk Joseph Zoettel (1878-1961) began constructing the expansive Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey. Receiving donated materials from other countries, Zoettel created over 125 miniature models of architectural monuments, including the Basilica of St. Peter's in Vatican City. Relying on photographs and small tourist statuettes of the structures, the shrine builder had little sense of scale relationships (notice the coliseum to the right and behind St. Peter's). He populated his grottoes with the characters of his Bavarian childhood: dragons, fairies, gnomes, and even Hansel and Gretel.

[Lomograph: Joseph Zoettel's Ave Maria Grotto, St. Bernard Abbey, Cullman, AL, built circa 1933-1958. 11-2005 by K. Rylance]

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