May 14: Our Lady of Bavaria (1330)
Also known as Our Lady of Altotting, the shrine of the Chapel of Grace in Bavaria lies amid the mountains about three miles south of Oberammergau in upper Bavaria. The miraculous healings that have occurred there are so numerous that the shrine is thought of today as the “Lourdes of Germany.” There are many votive offerings that have been left at the shrine as testimony of graces received and miraculous healings.
What is perhaps the most famous miracle occurred in the year 1489. A young boy had drowned, and his mother, full of faith, brought his body to lay at the feet of the image of the Mother of God, seeking a miracle. She was not disappointed, as her son was restored to life before many witnesses. From that time on, the chapel became a popular place of pilgrimage.
A Benedictine monastery was founded there in 1330 by the Emperor Ludwig IV, who established a community of twelve knights with their families to guard the place. However, it is the Capuchin friars who have served the shrine now for centuries, among them Brother Conrad of Parzham, who acted as porter for over forty years.
The emperor Ludwig gave a small statue of the Mother of God, carved in Italy; and the place was soon famous both for its shrine of Mary and the learning of the monks. In 1744 the medieval church was burnt down, its successor being built and decorated in the German baroque manner. The chapel has an unusual octagonal shape, and it is thought to be the oldest Marian shrine in Germany. The other buildings had been remodeled mostly as they appear today.
A century later the abbey was suppressed, with other Bavarian religious houses; but it was restored in 1904, and Our Lady is still a resort of pilgrims. This great sanctuary has a truly magnificent mountain setting.
Pope John Paul II visited the shrine in 1980, and Pope Benedict XVI went there in 2006, leaving the Episcopal ring he had worn while the Archbishop of Munich.
*from The Woman in Orbit and other sources
Photo courtesy: Siddhartha Finner
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