Documentary on Ave Maria Grotto creator to be broadcast

A documentary on the life and work of Ave Maria Grotto creator Br. Joseph Zoettl will air on a global Catholic network this fall.

“Brother Joseph and the Grotto,” a feature documentary from Red Clay Pictures, will be broadcast on EWTN this November.

The documentary is a “creative chronicle” of the life and work of Br. Joseph, who spent his life building miniatures of concrete and recycled materials on the grounds of Saint Bernard Abbey in Cullman, where he arrived in 1892 as a 14-year-old boy named Michael from Bavaria.

The miniatures now surround a large, man-made grotto on the abbey grounds. The entire park, known as Ave Maria Grotto, is a top tourist attraction for the state.

The documentary, produced by native Alabamians Carol Ann Vaughn Cross and Cliff Vaughn, uses voluminous archival material, interviews, re-enactments and original illustrations to tell the story of Br. Joseph in the style of a fairy tale. The man himself died in 1961.

Interviewees include Abbot Cletus Meagher and Fr. Marcus Voss of Saint Bernard Abbey, historian and Pulitzer-Prize nominee Wayne Flynt, and singer-songwriter Kate Campbell.

The film premieres on EWTN Saturday, Nov. 15 at 8:00 p.m. EST. It will also air on EWTN’s UK-Ireland satellite on Dec. 6 at 2:00 pm EST.

EWTN stands for Eternal Word Television Network and was founded in 1981 by Mother Angelica. It sends programming 24 hours a day into more than 230 million homes in nearly 150 countries and territories. (Click here to find out how you can access EWTN programming.) The network is headquartered in Irondale, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham.

The film had its public premiere at Saint Bernard Abbey in October 2013. It has since screened in locations across Alabama and been purchased by individuals and libraries across the country and in Germany.

For more information about the film and to order it on DVD, visit