5 places to celebrate Easter in the Midwest

Moses exhibit at Sioux City’s Trinity Heights.

As Easter approaches, the Midwest offers some beautiful spots to help observe the holiday. From the story of Jesus Christ to places of worship, you can visit interesting attractions.

Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa.

Considered the “eighth wonder of the world,” the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa, is the largest manmade grotto in the world. The Rev. Paul Dobberstein dedicated his life to building the grotto as a way of honoring the Virgin Mary. Dobberstein prayed to her to spare his life while he suffered from pneumonia. The priest – who later had help from another priest – spent about five decades building the grotto.

Located in a community of less than 1,000 about 140 miles northwest of Des Moines, the Grotto of the Redemption is a popular attraction among tourists and religious people. About 100,000 people visit throughout the year.

Life-sized display of The Last Supper at Trinity Heights.

Staying in Iowa, Sioux City is home to Trinity Heights, a tribute to Jesus and his mother, Mary. The 14-acre monument is located on the grounds of a former high school and college. Trinity Heights has several gardens for people to visit or meditate. Each garden has a religious theme, including the story of Mary, saints and the 12 Stations of the Cross.

Trinity Heights is home to a life-sized wood carving of the Last Supper. About 22 feet long, the depiction of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples took seven years to carve. The artist – Jerry Traufler of nearby Le Mars – donated it to Trinity Heights in 1993.

At each end of the garden are large statues of Jesus and Mary. The garden was the brainchild of The Rev. Harold Cooper, who was inspired after seeing a statue of Mary during a California visit.

St. Louis basilica.

One of the most beautiful churches we’ve seen is the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. The basilica – featuring beautiful mosaics and arches – took about 75 years to complete, beginning in 1907. Pope Paul VI called it the most beautiful cathedral in “all of the Americas.”

The basilica’s beauty isn’t restricted to the 83,000 square feet of the mosaics. The building’s external design is exquisite, featuring a dome in the center. Statues around the grounds include one named “Angel of Harmony.”

Minneapolis’ St. Mary was the first basilica in the United States.

Minneapolis is home to the first American basilica. Built between 1907 and 1914, the church was named as the first American basilica in 1926 by Pope Pius XI. The Basilica of St. Mary is beautiful, but its design is much more conservative than the St. Louis basilica.

The Minnesota basilica is accentuated by a marble altar that shines through natural lighting.  The dome is decorated with gold trim and blue paint.

St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls.

Sioux Falls, SD, shares the story of the Stations of the Cross inside its cathedral. Completed in 1918, the three-year project resulted in the Catholic church overlooking the city’s skyline. It was designed based on the St. Paul, Minn., cathedral.

St. Joseph Cathedral is conservative in appearance, with stained glass windows and art adorning the walls. The altar is beautiful, made of marble.

Sculptures attract views outside the cathedral. A statue featuring two small children tug at your emotions as they honor deceased children.

Regardless of anyone’s religious views, we believe churches and religious artifacts provide opportunities to view some amazing art, as well as stories. We hope you have a wonderful Easter season.