An ancient pilgrimage center in the heart of Bavaria; its original shrine has never been destroyed. One of the richest sanctuaries in the world. It is the site where, in 680, St. Rupert baptized Otto the pagan in a temple built in pre-Christian times. It is now a Catholic chapel to which the people make pilgrimage from May until November to venerate Our Lady and her Son. The larger church built around the first octagonal chapel has been enlarged repeatedly for the crowds that come and need accommodation. The center of attention is an ancient wooden statue of Mary and her Son. They are robed in heavily embroidered white and black mantles. On Good Friday both are draped with black veils. Mother and Child wear costly crowns, and she holds a scepter of jeweled lilies. The walls around the statue and the altar are nearly all of solid silver. The many lamps that burn constantly in thanksgiving for the miraculous cures and favors received here have so blackened the faces of the statue that Mary is often referred to as the Smiling Black Madonna of Altötting. Pope Pius IX’s special lamp still burns before Mary’s statue as he requested. This shrine has long been considered the heart of Catholic Marian devotion in Southern Germany. (Fr. John A. Hardon)For more detail, see Catholic Culture.
Visit Altotting by webcam and check out the local weather here, and view a short video clip of Altotting at YouTube. This is part of a longer DVD / video available from Journeys of Faith, which is itself part of a series, The Many Faces of Mary. You can find the coat of arms of Altotting, which include the shrine Church, on this flag.
Altotting is Pope Benedict XVI's "home" Marian shrine. He was born close by, visited frequently as a child and many times since. He said Mass there as Pope in September 2006, preaching this homily which is a commentary on the miracle at Cana. He concludes:
"Mary and Jesus go together. Through Mary we want to continue our converse with the Lord and to learn how to receive him better. Holy Mother of God, pray for us, just as at Cana you prayed for the bride and the bridegroom! Guide us towards Jesus - ever anew!"
Altotting was also the home of a nineteenth century saint, Brother Conrad of Parzham. Saint Conrad, a Capuchin friar who lived from 1818 to 1894, was the porter at the shrine of Altotting for over forty years. You can find out more about St. Conrad at American Catholic (short version) and the Capuchins of Mid-America (long version).
"My plan of life is chiefly this: to love and suffer, always meditating upon, adoring and admiring God's unspeakable love for his lowliest creatures." (St. Conrad)