My two younger daughters and I went to Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, AL last Thursday on a short Pilgrimage. The place was fascinating. The Grotto of the Blessed Mother is surrounded by 125 miniature reproductions of famous buildings from around the world as well as other shrines and biblical scenes. Created by the Benedictine monk, Brother Joseph Zoettl, the buildings are made from literally any material that people donated from glass, shells, tile, stone and marble, to a bird cage, ink bottles, jars, cement and much more. We spent time admiring the castles and the abbeys and the churches, the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, St. Peter's Basilica, Scenes from the Holy Land and from the Bible, and the Shrines of St. Theresa, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Guadalupe. We enjoyed every small detail. Tucked down in a wooded area, the heat was tolerable, thank goodness. After the time at the Grotto, we slipped over to the Church and made a little visit. The Benedictine Crucifix suspended above the altar was moving. Now it wasn't until I got home that I found out this connection... Sharing with my mother about the trip, I explained that displayed in the gift shop were several miniature grottos that at one time must have been something Brother Joseph sold, maybe to help with finances for St. Bernard Monastery. My mom reminded me of the shrine she has that is made from concrete with the colored stone and pieces of glass embedded throughout. It is on her balcony. Come to find out, my grandfather did some work for the monastery "back in the day" and this small replica was his payment for the work. Pretty neat to have that connection to circle back around and complete our short Pilgrimage.