Mariazell - a European Shrine of Mary (Austria)
An old and again very important spiritual "West-European capital of Our beloved Queen of Heaven" in the beautiful Austrian Alps.
For many centuries it is the Marian center of many European Danube-nations and for the nations on both sides of the former Iron Curtain.
So Mariazell stands as a symbol of Christian Europe against dangers from outside (the threat of the Turks) and from within (the threat of the spirit of the Enlightenment).
In its long history Mariazell, Austria's most important Marian Shrine, has drawn pilgrims from all over central Europe. The present day little town of 2000 inhabitants welcomes every year over one million pilgrims and visitors. From every direction under the heavens, roads and footpaths lead over the mountains to this holy place.
For 700 years Pilgrims from regions today known as Bavaria, Bohemia, France, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Germany, Switzerland and above all Austria and Hungary came seeking the help of the miraculous Mother of God at Mariazell.
Around the year 1500 documentation shows that pilgrims came here from 16 different countries and lands. This multilingual character has not changed. The availability of guide-books and confessors in many different languages is an expression of this.
Mariazell, through their King, began to be loved also by the people of Hungary who venerated Mary her as Magna Hungarorum Domina (Great Lady of Hungary): as time passed the Marian shrine became the most important destination for Hungarian pilgrims.
As no other Shrine, miraculous Mariazell is a point of reference for the Catholic peoples of central and eastern Europe.
The two princes– the Slav Vladislav Henry and the Hungarian Louis I – represented in life size figures greet the pilgrims from the gothic doors.
The place is the spiritual heart of the Catholic peoples of the Danube region. The history of pilgrimages to Mariazell is part of the history of the Christian west.
The fall of the Iron Curtain enabled once again pilgrims from countries east and south of Austria to reach Mariazell. In 1990 a pilgrimage of 'thanks and freedom' brought 25,000 pilgrims to the Shrine from former eastern block states.
The Shrine lived an historical “pilgrimage of peoples” on 24 May 2004: a few weeks after the enlargement of the European Union, some 100,000 pilgrims come from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria to celebrate at Mariazell the central event of Central Europe's 'Catholics Day'.
Much of Austrian and European history has been and will always be connected with Mariazell.
The crowning point of the history of Mariazell was without a doubt the visit by Pope John Paul II on 13 September 1983.
On 8 September 2007 during his apostolic journey to Austria Pope Benedict XVI also visited the Marian Shrine of Mariazell.
For Hungarians, although a distant church in a country with a different language, Mariazell has been the most important Marian Shrine for 500 years now.
In the time of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the Habsburg - dynasty ( 1273 - 1918) Mariazell was THE shrine of the monarchy. Copies of the statue of Our Lady of Mariazell are found in many places. It is practically impossible to make a list of all the places where a statue of Our Lady of Mariazell is venerated. There are statues in various parts of Austria, in churches in neighbouring countries, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany in Poland and overseas.
In the frame of 'Shrines of Europe' initiative, Mariazell since 1996 is united with five other Marian Shrines: Altötting (Germany), Czestokowa (Poland), Fatima (Portugal), Loreto (Italy), Lourdes (France). Since 6 May 2002 Mariazell has been twinned with Esztergom in Hungary, the Bishop's See of Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty whose tomb was in the Basilica of Mariazell for 16 years.
The statue of the Blessed Mother and Child became the famous miraculous image, still venerated today of "Magna Mater Austriae", Great Mother of Austria.
The miraculous images is a 48cm wooden figure. Our Lady is seated, with her right hand she holds the Child close to her and with the left offers him a pear, the Child offers his Mother an apple. Perhaps the statue inspired Rupert von Deutz (circa 1075 - 1129/30) who, in the history of salvation, saw Eve related with Mary and the fruits as representations of sin and redemption. In his comment on the Canticle of Canticles he writes:
„May He come into my garden and eat of the fruits of my trees; not like Eve invited her companion I invite my Beloved. She invited her companion to eat of the apple which did not belong to her, an unknown and prohibited fruit. I invite my Beloved to eat the fruits not of unknown trees but of his own trees; the fruit he refers to when he says: my food is to do the will of my Father.“
Beloved Mother and Queen of Europe! Protect your nations from the Army of the Antichrist and from the deceit of the False Prophet.
the full history and more information: the Holy European shrine of Mariazell - History in English.doc (1,5 MB)
Homepage of the Basilica of Mariazell: http://www.basilika-mariazell.at/site/en/info?SWS=4c27b190f341465a1f96e4f9d73ed548
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