Ferdinand, IN: Convent of the Immaculate Conception

The Sisters of St. Benedict arrived in Ferdinand, Indiana from Germany in 1867, and soon established a convent, the Monastery Immaculate Conception, and a boarding school for young women, the Academy Immaculate Conception.

The grotto on their grounds was built by an Evansville nurseryman, John C. Sterneman, and his five workers, just after WWII in 1946, according to an article in the Evansville Press:

The fourteen stations of the “Way of the Cross” are now depicted in landscaping at the Academy of Immaculate Conception at Ferdinand, Ind. John C. Sterneman, Evansville nurseryman, has just completed the religious scene which includes a grotto which is copied from the grotto at Lourdes France.

The way of the Cross in the Catholic Church represents the various steps in Christ’s life from the time he was condemned to death by the court to the burial of his body after the crucifixion.

The 14 stations are located on a circular pathway which passes the grotto in the center. Also located along the way are three stone benches for the ones who get tired making the circuit to sit down and rest awhile.

The path is made of common driveway rock or crushed white rock. It is bordered with stones from the quarries of St. Meinrad, Ind. The stones from these quarries were also used in building the benches, a number of bridges along the way, the 14 stations and the grotto itself. The path is about a mile long and at the end is an outdoor wayside station with a Iife size cross and the corpus of Christ.

Evergreens and shrubs have been planted to add to the beauty of the layout. Besides being built for the use of those at the academy it will be left open for the public to visit anytime. Mr. Sterneman with five other men completed this $4000 project in about six weeks. He also built the Burdette Park and East Side park and has had part in developing a large part of Mesker Park at Evansville.

Evansville Press, August 4, 1946
The 1946 article had a photo of the entire layout of the grounds with the paths encircling the grotto and stations of the cross.

The grotto at St. Benedict’s still stand on the Monastery grounds. The school closed in 2000, but the sisters operate the Benedictine Hospitality Center for retreats. The grotto remains a beloved part of Ferdinand.

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