Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama

I just returned home from teaching at the Alabama Quilt Symposium that was held at St. Bernard Abbey, in Cullman, Alabama.

The students in my classes were great and I hope they picked up some tips for borders and edges for their quilt projects, and the Fun with Nine-Patch class was just Most of those quilters had half of their quilt sewn together, and a couple had their whole top done. One quilter said she had never accomplished that much in a class before. Hooray! Our classes were held in the Retreat and Prep School buildings at the Abbey.

Also on the grounds is the Ave Maria Grotto. After driving past it a couple of times I knew I needed to find some time to go see the whole thing. I did, and here are some photos so you can see it too. These 125 miniature stone and cement structures are the handiwork of Brother Joseph Zoetl, a monk of the Abbey for almost 70 years. His monastic life was spent at the Abbey in daily hours of prayer and in laboring in the Abbey power house. When not busy shoveling coal into the furnaces, he took time to construct some miniature buildings, using stone, concrete, and unwanted donated materials, broken plates, costume jewelry, ceramic tile, beads, marbles, seashells, etc.

He gathered his ideas for his creations from extensive readings of history and the Bible. Of all the replcas constructed, he had seen only about six of them; all of the others were constrcted from photos or from printed descriptions.

They are amazing. He even included the Statue of Liberty as a tribute to his adopted country; Hansel and Gretel visit the Temple of the Fairies - note its beautiful little children and the awful dragon, which is bound by a heavy chain!

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