Wednesday, April 30, 2008

May 3rd: Austria - Our Lady of Mariazell

Feast Day: September 13th

The most famous place of pilgrimage to Mary in Central Europe, high in the Austrian Alps. Its origins go back to 1154, when Magnus, a Benedictine monk, retired from the abbey at Lambrecht to live a more contemplative life. He carried with him a twenty-two-inch simple statue of Mary and her infant Son. He lost his way in the woods near Graatz, and night found him facing a high rock that he could neither climb nor go around. He placed the statue on a log while he prayed to Our Lady for direction. The high black rock suddenly split in two and light shone forth from its severed edges. He realized that Mary had led him there and wanted to be honored in that place. He built a small hermitage with a tree stump for a pedestal to hold the statue. About a century later a neighboring prince and his wife were seriously ill. Being told in a dream to go to the hermitage and pray, they were cured. In gratitude they built a church on the spot. The statue of Our Lady of Mariazell, though over eight hundred years old, has never shown any sign of wear or decay. The Madonna is seated, her dress is white, with a blue mantle. The Infant holds an apple in his hand. Mary is holding a pear. The first church replacing the small chapel was built in 1200. In 1340 the King of Hungary erected a larger church to accommodate the pilgrims. In the seventeenth century the present Baroque edifice was built. The Austro-Hungarian rulers considered it their most cherished shrine. Veneration to Mary and her Son continued under all vicissitudes until grave war dangers forced a temporary concealment of the treasured statue. This shrine has maintained its Austrian character though it has been a haven to people from many nations. In 1975 Cardinal Mindszenty was buried at Mariazell, his personally designated final resting place.(Fr. John A. Hardon)
This website set up to chronicle the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Austria for the 850th anniversary of the shrine of Mariazell in September 2007 has detailed information and many pictures. I particularly liked this one of the monk Marcus arriving at Mariazell:

To prepare for the Pope's visit the bishops asked Austrians to pray this prayer from his encyclical Deus Caritas:
Holy Mary, Mother of God, you have given the world its true light, Jesus, your Son – the Son of God. You abandoned yourself completely to God's call and thus became a wellspring of the goodness which flows forth from him. Show us Jesus. Lead us to him. Teach us to know and love him, so that we too can become capable of true love and be fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world”.
The website for the Basilica of Mariazell includes an extensive panoramic tour. Click on the green circles for a 360 degree view from that spot. The site also has pictures and details of other holy places at Mariazell.

(Picture: BBC News)

If I was travelling to Mariazell I would want to take a ride on The Pilgrim's Railway, the Mariazellerbahn.

This prayer comes from the website of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Washington:
Prayer to Our Lady of Mariazell
O Mary, we call upon you.
You are the Great Mother of Austria,
the Mother of the Slavic peoples.
You offer a safe haven for the exiled;
you bring freedom and consolation to prisoners.
We ask you holiest of all virgins, to guard innocence and purity.
Help us in all our needs, assist us in danger when we call upon you.
O Mary, guardian of the German Lands,
we pray that you may banish the scourges of war and bring peace to all believers. Through your powerful intercession, console the disillusioned, bring back the erring, comfort the sick, and give hope to sinners.
Great Mother Mary, Our Lady of Mariazell,
bless and protect the people who honor you.


Mary G said...

Pope Benedict went to Mariazell when he went to Austria last year (as did JP2 at least once during his pontificate). It is a wonderful place in a country that has many Marian shrines ...

And the Mariazellerbahn IS a trip not to be missed ... the narrow gauge thru the mountains is thrilled (altho I'm not keen on heights).

Thanks for bringing back memories of a wonderful time ... and THANKS for creating this unit; you REALLY need to publish it.

Amy Bowllan said...

Thank you for posting this. It allowed me to pause for a minute and get out of the day - to - day mundane 'stuff'.

The Bookworm said...

I thought of you when I was doing this one, Mary :).

Thank you for the kind comments.