If you read my blog, one thing you will see a lot of is rock gardens. Before Maiden Voyage, I had no clue there was such a thing. Over the past year though, I have found that many people find joy in recreating wondrous buildings from the world right in their own back yard. Each garden has its own unique charm, having the style of the architect shine through. When I got to the Ava Maria Grotto though, I was in for a treat that I could never imagine.
Hidden in the forests of Alabama is St Bernards Abbey, founded in 1891. I guess it makes sense that an abbey would be located in this beautiful area. The forests are dense with life and vegetation, leaving a serene environment to pray and devote ones life to God. Each monk that lives there must find a time to occupy their time, and in 1912, Brother Joseph decided to spend his time building these replicas using stone, concrete, and unwanted donated materials, e.g., broken plates, costume jewelry, ceramic tile, beads, marbles and seashells. He continued building them until 1958, when he was 80 years old.
I really wasn’t prepared for what the Abbey had in store. I drove up to a quaint building with a single nun inside. After paying the small fee, I walked out back and was immediately overtaken by the sheer beauty of the grotto. It was so much bigger than I had imagined, running down into a small valley overlooking a stream. One by one, the buildings dot a sidewalk leading you throughout the space. Taking time to stop and pay attention to all the small details can feel a bit overwhelming. There is just so much to take in.
Make sure to give yourself a few hours to relax here. An ambience of peace lives in every corner and there is always another detail to discover. I was a but upset that I was so unprepared, only having my camera and not prepared to take any video. This just gives me an excuse to come back again soon though, which I most definitely will do.
Closest Supercharger Athens AL 46 mi
21282 Athens-Limestone Ln, Athens, AL 35613
Ava Maria Grotto
1600 St Bernard Dr, Cullman, AL 35055