Pilgrimage to Mariastein


Category:
Social practices
Canton:

Description

The pilgrimage to "St. Mary in the rock" originated at the beginning of the 14th century, when, as legend has it, a young boy was miraculously saved by the Virgin Mary following a fall from a cave in the cliffs. Today, this cave is the location of the Chapel of Grace of the Virgin Mary. Pilgrims travel to the site from throughout Switzerland and neighbouring countries, and include members of a range of ethnic groups living in Switzerland (Albanians, Italians, Filipinos, Portuguese, Slovakians, Spanish and Tamils). Even some Hindu Tamils make the pilgrimage to Mariastein. The considerable appeal of this place of pilgrimage, which transcends ethnic and religious boundaries and thus facilitates integration, evolved without any specific promotional campaigns on the part of the institutions.

Aside from a hiatus during the period of the revolution, the Benedictine monks from the Beinwil monastery in the canton of Solothurn have been providing pastoral care for pilgrims since 1636. In 1648, the monks relocated their monastery to Mariastein, where it was finally closed in 1874 during the Kulturkampf (a period of conflict between the state and the Catholic Church). People continued to make the pilgrimage, however, and were still looked after by the Benedictines. The abbey and its community went into exile in France and later Austria, from where they were expelled in 1941. They were granted asylum in the old monastery, which was officially re-established by the government in 1970/71.

Image gallery

  • The miraculous image with its six putti attracts over 150,000 pilgrims a year © Karin Janz, 2011
  • Different languages and alphabets on the ex-voto panels on the abbey walls © Kira von Rickenbach, 2011
  • Detail of the panels of ex-votos with which pilgrims give thanks for their prayers being answered © Benediktinerkloster Mariastein
  • The Tamils make their pilgrimage to Mariastein during the first weekend of August every year © Kira von Rickenbach, 2011
  • Tamils travel to Mariastein from throughout Switzerland © Kira von Rickenbach, 2011
  • Old songs and distinctive percussion create a special atmosphere during the mass © Kira von Rickenbach, 2011
  • The Filipinos make their pilgrimage every year in August © Karin Janz, 2011
  • A choir of children and parents accompanies the mass held for the Filipino pilgrims © Karin Janz, 2011
  • In June 1951, Mariastein hosted a conciliatory meeting of war veterans © Benediktinerkloster Mariastein, 1951
  • From 1926 until the 1970s, a "Trostfest" (festival of solace) featuring a procession was held annually. © Benediktinerkloster Mariastein, 1946
  • The miraculous image with its six putti attracts over 150,000 pilgrims a year © Karin Janz, 2011
  • Different languages and alphabets on the ex-voto panels on the abbey walls © Kira von Rickenbach, 2011
  • Detail of the panels of ex-votos with which pilgrims give thanks for their prayers being answered © Benediktinerkloster Mariastein
  • The Tamils make their pilgrimage to Mariastein during the first weekend of August every year © Kira von Rickenbach, 2011
  • Tamils travel to Mariastein from throughout Switzerland © Kira von Rickenbach, 2011
  • Old songs and distinctive percussion create a special atmosphere during the mass © Kira von Rickenbach, 2011
  • The Filipinos make their pilgrimage every year in August © Karin Janz, 2011
  • A choir of children and parents accompanies the mass held for the Filipino pilgrims © Karin Janz, 2011
  • In June 1951, Mariastein hosted a conciliatory meeting of war veterans © Benediktinerkloster Mariastein, 1951
  • From 1926 until the 1970s, a "Trostfest" (festival of solace) featuring a procession was held annually. © Benediktinerkloster Mariastein, 1946

References and documentation

Publications
  • Benediktiner Kloster Mariastein (Ed.): Mariastein. Gnadenort und Benediktinerkloster. Bern, 2010

  • Hieronymus Haas: Wallfahrtsgeschichte von Mariastein. Solothurn, 1973

  • Interview mit Pater Lukas Schenker vom 7. September 2011, im Benediktinerkloster Mariastein. Aargauer Kuratorium.

  • Sibylle Hardegger: Die Wallfahrt von Mariastein als Ausdruck einer volksnahen Frömmigkeit. Diplomarbeit der Theologischen Fakultät Luzern. Binningen, 1993

  • Thomas Kamber: Heilungen im Wallfahrtsort Mariastein. Inauguraldissertation der Medizinischen Fakultät der Universität Basel. Basel, 1983

  • Lukas Schenker: Mariastein. Führer durch Wallfahrt und Kloster. Einsiedeln, 2010

  • Edith Schweizer-Völker, Martin Schulte-Kellinghaus: Mythische Orte am Oberrhein. Ausflüge in die Dreiländerregion Elsass-Südbaden-Nordwestschweiz. Basel, 2005

  • Verein Frauenstadtrundgang Basel (Ed.): still & stark. Die heiligen Frauen von Mariastein. Eine etwas andere Wallfahrt zu Maria in der Felsengrotte. Zürich, 2003

Documentation