St. Donatus Catholic Church (97 1st St. E.; 563.583.0092) was dedicated in 1860. Interior highlights include the German Baroque altars and the Statue of Our Lady of Luxembourg on the right side of the nave. (This statue is usually on the left, but the family that paid for it sat on the right side.) The rectory was built from the same native limestone in 1857.
The Outdoor Way of the Cross, the first one in the United States, was completed in 1862 under the leadership of Father Michael Flammang, the same priest who directed construction of the church and school building. The path is not paved—unless you count sheep dung as paving—and it does get a bit steep—and slick—at times, but it is worth the effort to go all the way to the Pieta Chapel (built in 1885) at the top. The cemetery behind the church has a number of remarkable headstones from the 19th-century.
In 1854, the first Lutheran services were held in St. Donatus at the home of John Felderman. The current St. John Lutheran Church (US Highway 52; 563.773.2313) was completed in 1921. After the old church was razed in 1919 and before the new one was ready, services were held again at the Felderman home. The altar dates to 1909 and was brought over from the old stone church. St. John’s had German-language services until the late 1930s.
The Fritz Chapel (308th St.) is located in an atmospheric valley just six miles south of St. Donatus. The road quickly turns from blacktop to gravel and passes by St. Nicholas Cemetery and the old St. Nicholas Church (built in 1855) before reaching the small chapel two miles west of US 52. Matthias Fritz, his wife, and six children immigrated to the United States in the mid-1800s from Luxembourg. The trans-Atlantic voyage took 42 difficult days. Matthias vowed that, if he and his family survived the trip, he would build a chapel to thank God for their safe arrival. In 1852, he fulfilled his promise by building this small chapel, laying the stones and carving the wood himself. His descendents continue to maintain the chapel.