The Crystal Shrine Grotto is a treasure in one of the cemeteries in Memphis, TN. Artist and sculptor, Dionicio Rodriguez an accomplished master of el trabajo rustico (rustic work) and faux bois (false wood), created the design – a design meant to appear as a natural cave.
The design took a little over 6 years to create by digging a 60-foot deep cavern, lining it with sculpted cement and five tons of quartz crystal, and designing ten niches and artistic backgrounds for Gospel-story statues.
Outside of the grotto, a mausoleum made of stone with an ornate black metal gate and window coverings. As you step onto the site, you cross a wooden bridge made of bentwood kept in it’s natural and rustic origins.
The walkway called “The Rustic Walkway,” surrounds a lake with fish and a beautiful fountain in the center. The lake is called “The Pool of Hebron.” To the right of the lake, is a large hollow tree called “The Oak of Abraham.” You can sit inside of the tree as it serves as both a sculpture and a gazebo. As you walk through, another large formation stands before you.
The door is made of dark wood and metal, resembling an old castle entrance. Inside of the hollowed out formation, you enter a religious sanctuary, with art installations and sculptures illuminated by multi-colored lights guiding you through the biblical story of Jesus Christ and the origins of Christianity.
David Day, an artist with a masters degree in figurative art, used limestone and wood, by adding modernist sculptures such as an eerie, glowing “Zacchaeus up a Tree,” and a space alien “Transfiguration Jesus.”
The various artwork ranges from oil paintings to sculpture in differing styles and made of different materials. The grotto itself is filled with natural rock formations including quartz crystal, amethyst, lapis lazuli and onyx organized into a dazzling display.
The inside is a feast for the eyes and the spirit whether you are religious or not. Once leaving the grotto, there is an open area with a large bench made of one giant tree, this is called “God’s Garden,” and it is a place for reflection and meditation. The steps leading down into the garden have two large quartz crystal formations to the left and to the right, serving as pillars.
The beautiful memorial is completely free to walk through and is a wonderful and peaceful way to spend a morning or an afternoon in Memphis, TN.