Pilgrimage to Einsiedeln


Category:
Social practices
Canton:

Description

The practice of walking or travelling to a holy site – making a pilgrimage – is widespread among Catholics in Switzerland. Although many publicly celebrated religious rituals became less prominent and important or even disappeared completely in the second half of the 20th century, pilgrimages remained popular with a broad, socially varied group of people. In addition to the ancient religious reasons for making a pilgrimage, many of today's pilgrims are motivated by a yearning for self-discovery. Central Switzerland offers a multitude of sacred buildings with specific Maria and saint figures that are designed for local pilgrimages. There are also a large number of pilgrim churches, with icons and relics that attract audiences from beyond regional borders. The most frequented of these is the abbey at Einsiedeln. Each year, some 500,000 pilgrims from around the world visit the chapel of grace that is integrated into the abbey to view and worship the Black Madonna, a wooden statue from the late Gothic period. Most of these people come from Switzerland and neighbouring countries (Northern Italy, southern Germany and the Alsace), but many also travel from Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. The tradition of making pilgrimages to Einsiedeln dates back at least to the 13th century, but is thought to be even older.

Image gallery

  • Pilgrims from around the world on the square in front of Einsiedeln Abbey, 2009 © P. Bruno Greis/Kloster Einsiedeln
  • Crowds of pilgrims in Einsiedeln Abbey, with the Chapel of Grace on the left, 2008 © P. Bruno Greis/Kloster Einsiedeln
  • The focus of worshippers' attention: the Black Madonna in Persian robes in the Einsiedeln Chapel of Grace, 2008 © P. Bruno Greis/Kloster Einsiedeln
  • Pilgrims in Morgartenberg (Schwyz) on the nine-hour pilgrimage from Lucerne to Einsiedeln, 2012 © Matthias Bättig / Verein Luzerner Landeswallfahrt zu Fuss nach Einsiedeln
  • A group of Hindu Tamils who live in Switzerland worshipping in the Einsiedeln Abbey, 2007 © Christof Hirtler, Altdorf
  • Pilgrims on the square in front of Einsiedeln Abbey, around 1900 © Einsiedeln Abbey
  • A group of pilgrims gather in the courtyard of Einsiedeln Abbey, around 1900 © Einsiedeln Abbey
  • A procession of pilgrims around the Fountain of Our Lady on the square in front of Einsiedeln Abbey, around 1900 © Einsiedeln Abbey
  • Pilgrims from around the world on the square in front of Einsiedeln Abbey, 2009 © P. Bruno Greis/Kloster Einsiedeln
  • Crowds of pilgrims in Einsiedeln Abbey, with the Chapel of Grace on the left, 2008 © P. Bruno Greis/Kloster Einsiedeln
  • The focus of worshippers' attention: the Black Madonna in Persian robes in the Einsiedeln Chapel of Grace, 2008 © P. Bruno Greis/Kloster Einsiedeln
  • Pilgrims in Morgartenberg (Schwyz) on the nine-hour pilgrimage from Lucerne to Einsiedeln, 2012 © Matthias Bättig / Verein Luzerner Landeswallfahrt zu Fuss nach Einsiedeln
  • A group of Hindu Tamils who live in Switzerland worshipping in the Einsiedeln Abbey, 2007 © Christof Hirtler, Altdorf
  • Pilgrims on the square in front of Einsiedeln Abbey, around 1900 © Einsiedeln Abbey
  • A group of pilgrims gather in the courtyard of Einsiedeln Abbey, around 1900 © Einsiedeln Abbey
  • A procession of pilgrims around the Fountain of Our Lady on the square in front of Einsiedeln Abbey, around 1900 © Einsiedeln Abbey

References and documentation

Publications
  • Paul Hugger: Pilgerschaft und Wallfahrt. In: Volksfrömmigkeit in der Schweiz. Ed. Ernst Halter, Dominik Wunderlin, Giorgio von Arb. Zürich, 1999, p. 202-219

  • Detta Kälin: Notwende. Votivgaben für die Schwarze Madonna von Einsiedeln. Ausstellung vom 3. Juli bis 14. September 2003 im Marstall des Klosters Einsiedeln. Egg, 2003

  • Kari Kälin: Schauplatz katholischer Frömmigkeit. Wallfahrt nach Einsiedeln von 1864 bis 1914 (Religion, Politik, Gesellschaft in der Schweiz 38). Freiburg i. Ü., 2005

  • Jäggi, Stefan: Religion und Kirche im Alltag: In: Geschichte des Kantons Schwyz. Band 3. (Ed.): Historischen Verein des Kantons Schwyz. Zürich, 2012, S. 243-271

  • Othmar Lustenberger: Einsiedler Marienverehrung am Vorabend der Reformation. In: Mitteilungen des historischen Vereins des Kantons Schwyz 94. Schwyz, 2002, p. 287-304

  • Lang, Josef: Die Zuger Wallfahrten nach Einsiedeln – Spiegel der religiösen Entwicklung. In: Zug erkunden. Bildessays und historische Beiträge zu 16 Zuger Schauplätzen. (Ed.): Staatsarchiv Zug. Zug, 2002, S. 25-53

  • Alois Senti: Die Wallfahrt zur Schwarzen Madonna von Einsiedeln. In: Werbung für die Götter. Heilsbringer aus 4000 Jahren. Ed. Thomas Staubli. Freiburg i. Ü., 2003, p. 117-153

  • Hans Steinegger: Einsiedler Pilgersagen. Sankt Meinrad, Kloster, Mönche, Schwarze Madonna, Wallfahrten. Überlieferungen aus der Schweiz, Süddeutschland und Österreich. Schwyz, 2010

Documentation