About this Business
- HoursSun-Sat9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
From Our Editors
The life's work of Brother Joseph Zoettl began as little more than a hobby. Originally born in Bavaria in 1878 as Michael Zoettl, Brother Joseph chose to join the Benedictine order at a young age and ended up at St. Bernard Abbey, where he was tasked with working the power plant. His long days of hard work were only interrupted by the weekly opportunities to attend Sunday Mass, so he decided to make the most of his free time by embracing a hobby: creating miniatures.
Beginning with cement, Brother Joseph patiently constructed a scale replica of a church. Visitors flocked to see his early creations, so Brother Joseph continued his hobby while gradually increasing the ambitious scope of his projects. Over the course of the next 40 years, he would go on to create the 125 miniature reproductions of iconic churches, shrines, and buildings that currently fill Ave Maria Grotto's four acres of park land.
Often made of the marbles, cold-cream jars, broken bathroom tiles, costume jewelry, and pieces of colored glass that were mailed to him by admirers, Brother Joseph's meticulously intricate miniatures include everything from the basilica in Lourdes to a prophetically accurate model of the International Space Station.