History and flowers live at Rudolph Grotto Gardens - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

History and flowers live at Rudolph Grotto Gardens

It's a breezy July afternoon.  A breath of wind ushers the sounds of wind chimes over the Rudolph Grotto Gardens in Wood County.  It's a peaceful sound.  And one Kris Willfahrt says she can't get enough of.

"And that's great.  It's wonderful" Willfahrt told Newsline 9. 

Willfahrt is head groundskeeper of the large garden started by Fr. Phillip Wagner in 1919. 

"I like to work hard, I like a challenge, and this fit the bill" she said smiling.

Willfahrt's activity with the gardens dates back to 1986.  In that time she has been leading the charge to transform the cabin in the gardens into a Fr. Phillip Wagner Museum in his honor. 

"They were a generation where you saved everything.  So I thought, oh, how wonderful!  And I've always like museums and when people go somewhere you like to know the whats and wheres so it makes it interesting" Willfahrt said. 

Willfahrt says the mementos from Wagners' life inside the cabin teach people about his ministry.  The gardens outside complete his life's dream. 

The gardens were modeled after Our Lady's Shrine in Lourdes, France.  That's a garden Wagner prayed at when studying for the priesthood in Europe. 

The gardens are located at 6957 Grotto Ave., Rudolph, Wis. directly behind St. Phillip's Church. 

In addition to being a free place families can enjoy, the ground also host the church's annual picnic.  This year's is scheduled for Aug. 5th and is the 92nd annual. 

To get to the gardens from Wausau, take I-39 south to exit 175.  Go right onto WI-34, then right onto Cty. Road H.  Turn left onto Cty. Road O and then right onto Cty. Road C.  The gardens are located to the left off Grotto Drive.

For an interactive tour of the gardens log on to http://rudolphgrotto.org/.   

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