Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A place of peace for the faithful in Waterville September 30, 2016




I AM NOT of the Catholic faith.






Still I appreciate the strong, artistic visuals that hold great symbolism for those who are Catholic.




On a recent visit to Waterville, I discovered the grotto at Holy Trinity Catholic Church. While there’s no comparison to the renowned Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa, this southern Minnesota grotto is worth appreciating.




Here, in this farming community, field stones were harvested and crafted into a religious shrine in 1929 that honors Christ, Mary and the archangel Michael. One can only imagine the labor and love invested in creating this quiet space of prayer and peace.




Nearly 90 years later, this parish still cares for this place. Plants ring the shrine. Stones remain secure. And in 1992, the walls and floors were constructed and a time capsule installed.




Faithful devotion endures through the generations at Holy Trinity Grotto in Waterville. I see that in this shrine.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


16 Responses to “A place of peace for the faithful in Waterville”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    This is beautiful. I never made it to the one in Iowa and always wanted to . Maybe some day if I ever come back to visit.

  2. With all the unkindness and tragedy in the news lately this post is so needed – thanks so much for sharing. Happy Weekend – Enjoy!

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Wonderful post. One does not have to share a faith to appreciate the serenity and beauty of religious design.

    On a sad note, regular services at Saint Mary’s in Geneva MN ended this weekend.

    The white framed church hides among the pines at a cross roads several miles outside of town and has been the family church of my in-laws for over a hundred and fifty years. We will still maintain the building and grounds and occasionally celebrate weddings, funerals there but it will no longer host Sunday services.

    • Oh, Greg, I am so sorry to hear this about Saint Mary’s. Is is because of a dwindling congregation, no priest or what?

      I am happy to hear, though, that you will still maintain the building and site. How about holding an annual service there? Those seem popular in closed churches, to share memories and even to gather funding for upkeep.

  4. Catholic churches are some of the most decorative churches I’ve ever been in. This one is beautiful

  5. Jackie Says:

    Such a beautiful shrine, so well taken care of!. I love how the sun in peeking over the structure in the first photo 🙂

  6. I am not Catholic either,]
    yet I believe all of this visual symbolism and beauty is for me, TOO!
    Gorgeous photos! xx

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