Dokumentation - Documentation - Documentacion
 published: 2003-11-12

We want Schoenstatt with its source of grace and with its stream of life to become a part of the vision and the practical life of a renewed Church

Letter of the General Presidium of the International Schoenstatt Work


La piedra fundamental del Santuario Matri Ecclesiae, Roma

The corner stone of the Matri Ecclesiae Shrine, Rome

Der Grundstein des Matri Ecclesiae-Heiligtums,Rom


Oración de la Presidencia General, 8 de diciembre, 2003

Prayer of the General Presidium, December 8, 2003

Gebet des Generalpräsidiums, 8. Dezember 2003


Golpe de martillo, P. Heinrich Walter:  el martillo fue usado por el Padre Fundador en la colocación de la piedra angular de la Iglesia de la Adoración

Hammer blow, Fr. Heinrich Walter: the hammer was used by Fr. Kentenich at the corner stone laying of the Adoration Church

Hammerschlag, P. Heinrich Walter: der Hammer wurde von Pater Kentenich bei der Grundsteinlegung der Anbetungskirche benutzt.


Golpe de martillo: Hna. M. Jacoba Kesselheim

Hammer blow: Sr. M. Jacoba Kesselheim

Hammerschlag: Sr. M. Jacoba Kesselheim


Golpe de martillo: Mons. Peter Wolf

Hammer blow: Mons. Peter Wolf

Hammerschlag: Mons. Dr. Peter Wolf


Golpe de martillo: Dr. Inge Birk

Hammer blow: Dr. Inge Birk

Hammerschlag: Dr. Inge Birk


Golpe de martillo: Renate Martin

Hammer blow: Renate Martin

Hammerschlag: Renate Martin


Golpe de martillo: P. Dr. Lothar Penners

Hammer blow: P. Dr. Lothar Penners

Hammerschlag: P. Dr. Lothar Penners

Fotos: P. Marcelo Avarena © 2003



General Presidium
of the International
Schoenstatt Work

Rome, December 9, 2003

Dear Schoenstatt Family

The act of laying the cornerstone for the international shrine in Rome has brought us together here in the Holy City. What happened here at this place on the closing day of the Second Vatican Council thirty-eight years ago, has been accomplished. The General Presidium and other representatives of the Schoenstatt Family were gathered around the founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, and by erecting a wayside shrine on the grounds at the Via di Boccea, symbolically laid the cornerstone. With great joy our father accepted the gift which the General Presidium presented to him on his 80th birthday in the name of the whole International Schoenstatt Work. At that time, they promised to build a shrine in Rome as well as an international center. Today too, we stand by this gift and keep the promise made in those crucial and decisive days in the life of our founder.

Through a telegram he was unexpectedly called back, and, after fourteen long years of exile and the painful separation from his spiritual family, he traveled to Rome. Once in Rome, the tension only seemed to increase until, in a session of the Holy Office, the cardinals repealed all former resolutions against his person, and the Holy Father Pope Paul VI confirmed this decision on October 22, 1965. With that, our father and founder was finally free and, at the same time, had arrived in the heart of the Church.

Weeks of great joy followed. He gathered the governments of his communities around himself in Rome, and they were privileged to experience him in the center of his family. Never before and never afterward was our founder together with the General Presidium of our movement for so long a period. Filled with gratitude we look back to the weeks of the "Rome Talks," the celebration of his 80th birthday, and the conclusion of the Council on December 8, 1965, with the symbolic act of laying the cornerstone.

Our father saw this day as a sign which promised a new interaction between Schoenstatt and the Church in the future. This was to express what had long been alive in him as a faith-inspired conviction; namely, that Schoenstatt has a great mission for the Church of the future. This hope had been alive in his family since 1929; it had found expression in his words about the "shadow of the shrine," where the "destiny of the world and Church will be essentially influenced." All that grew in Schoenstatt through his initiative as the founder was and is intended to be a contribution for the Church. Due to this conviction, our father had long been filled with the desire to build a shrine in Rome. As early as the late forties, he searched for a place for a shrine. The sisters shared in his desire early on and already before the Council purchased a piece of land for a shrine on the Via di Boccea in Rome. The founder was acquainted with this piece of land and visited it three times. It was on this land that the symbolic laying of the cornerstone took place on December 8, 1965, and where we celebrated with great joy the final laying of the cornerstone yesterday.

The name of the future Shrine

Our father and founder personally decided on the name for the future shrine in Rome: Matri Ecclesiae. With that he chose the inscription used on the cornerstone for a large church; the cornerstone that had been blessed by the Holy Father at the solemn closing act of the Council. The Matri Ecclesiae Shrine will always illustrate that the shrine and the whole Schoenstatt Movement are a gift to "Mother Church" and to Mary as Mother of the Church. The Cor Ecclesiae Shrine stands for the mission and the ideal of Schoenstatt and the Sisters’ family to be "heart of the Church" with Mary. In the time of acute danger, the Sisters’ family promised the Blessed Mother to build a shrine for her in Rome in thanksgiving for granting the request that she restore our father’s God-given position within the work and the family. Twenty-five years later, in 1990, the shrine was blessed.

Identification and the alignment of Schoenstatt with the Council.

In his talk on December 8, 1965, which he considered the "Founding Document" for the shrine in Rome, our founder associated the shrine in Rome with the question of the new image of the Church after the Council. He was deeply moved by the idea of the identification and the alignment of Schoenstatt with the Council. He based it on the experience and the certainty that what the Council wrestled with regarding the image of the Church has long been alive in Schoenstatt. Through the images of the "pilgrim rock" and the "ship," with obvious joy he captured the new insights and at the same time the dynamics and the flexibility which the Church newly acquired in the Second Vatican Council.

Quite in the spirit of the Council, he focused on a Church that "soulfully adheres to tradition" and is "detached from rigid forms." Whenever we as Schoenstatt members pursue this track, we will give the Church long-lasting assistance in finding her vital center and in avoiding the pitfalls of unfruitful extremes. With our founder we strive for a Church that is "united in a brotherly/sisterly way" and "governed hierarchically." Whenever we work to promote a family-like / sisterly/brotherly type of interrelationship, fatherly authority and "family-like obedience," we contribute to the renewal of the Church and her structures. With the Second Vatical Council our father shared the vision of a Church that does not withdraw from the world but has the courage to become "the soul of the culture and world of today and tomorrow." With prophetic commitment our father did his utmost that the Church, faithful to her calling, would have a Marian character, a Marian face, and that Mary would be increasingly recognized and honored as the "Mother of the Church." At the same time, he envisioned a "poor Church" that would abandon all pomp and political power. He was longing for a "humble Church" capable of asking for forgiveness, as we convincingly experienced it in these last years through our Pope John Paul II.

Building a Schoenstatt Shrine in Rome cannot mean to simply add another one to the many churches and chapels. When we build a Schoenstatt Shrine here, it is meant to express that we want Schoenstatt with its source of grace and with its stream of life to become a part of the vision and the practical life of a renewed Church. Wherever we are engaged to cultivate the above mentioned values and goals in our relationships and groups, in our parishes and communities, we contribute to the renewal of the Church and the actualization of the Council. It is in the local churches that we must strive to realize every day what our father considered Schoenstatt’s mission for the Church. Through our cooperation and our apostolic commitment in the parishes and wherever Schoenstatt members live, our founder’s love for the Church should be realized and continued. In this sense it is true: "All roads lead to Rome."

A task for the family as a whole

As General Presidium we are in accord with the words of our father and founder. It is our great concern that we stand together as worldwide Schoenstatt Family and fulfill the promise made to him by building the international shrine and center in Rome. Even though it is in accord with the wish and will of our founder and in accordance with the decision of the General Presidium that the Schoenstatt Institute of Diocesan Priests hold the legal title in the realization [of this promise], they do not act alone but as representatives of the family. It has always been understood that this great project will be a task for the family as a whole. We find this expressed in the Curatorium in Rome in which our communities are represented as in the General Presidium. This committee conducts and attends to all preliminary discussions of the details of the plans and all major decisions

A project in two phases of construction

After years of negotiations, we finally received the building permit and we will undertake the project in two phases of construction. With the laying of the cornerstone we begin – as is very much in the spirit of our father – with the shrine as the innermost core of the future international center in Rome. It is located at the upper part of the grounds and later will, in a sense, be the crown of our center. With the start of the construction, we will secure the entire grounds with a sturdy fence and gates and provide access roads to the shrine. The first phase of the construction includes a sacristy and a larger house for a guard to provide accommodations for a guard family and space for day meetings on the grounds near the shrine. The actual conference center is planned to follow at an interval of two or three years.

Filling the jars

With the construction of the shrine we are all invited – according to the Founding Document – to move the Blessed Mother through our contributions to the capital of grace to establish herself here and to distribute graces and gifts in abundance. Now it is necessary to make the covenant of love and to fill the jars as in the Gospel. In this way, the secret of the fruitfulness of the original shrine shall be repeated, something that meanwhile has become manifest in many other shrines around the globe. May this stream of life converge and be consolidated in the shrine in Rome for the Church on the new shore. We place everything, all the prayers and sacrifices we offer, our endeavors in our self-education and the apostolate, into the jars for the Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt. Many of us feel deeply addressed by the challenge the Holy Father expressed in his Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae and like to recite the Rosary. And so, we would like to invite the worldwide Schoenstatt Family to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary in a holy competition of love and to offer them for the shrine in Rome. At the blessing of the shrine, we will carry the symbolic expressions of the Rosaries prayed in many countries in large jars to the shrine and collect there.

It was our father’s will that our communities should not move the seat of their generalate to Rome. He wanted us to have our mother houses and our father houses in Schoenstatt and be at home there. Yet it was important to him that Schoenstatt should establish its presence in Rome, in the heart of the Church. He wanted us to have representatives in Rome in the sense of procurements which make our communities present in Rome and assure our involvement. It was a concern of his that people should be able to come to know and experience Schoenstatt at the center of the Church.

A truely International Center

We will have to make targeted efforts that the future center will reflect the diversity of our Movement and that representatives of as many communities as possible will be present there. It is necessary that in the heart of the Church we will establish contacts with Vatican authorities, with other ecclesial movements, and with all apostolic forces in the Church. We want to realize the goal that Schoenstatt will be perceived in Rome as an international movement and not primarily as a German foundation. For that reason our center needs an international "occupying staff," an international presentation and radiating aura.

The Schoenstatt Institute of Diocesan Priests and the Curatorium in Rome are dreaming that there will be areas and rooms in this center which express the specific character of individual countries in the worldwide Schoenstatt Family, donated and organized by them.

The Schoenstatt Institute of Diocesan Priests and the Curatorium in Rome are envisioning that as many Schoenstatt members as possible in the whole world will be able to say with joy and pride that, by contributing a building stone, they have cooperated in this large common project.

As the General Presidium we gladly share in these hopes. The future international shrine and center in Rome is our common enterprise, a gift from all of us to our father and with him to the Church.

United in the covenant of love, greetings from Rome

General Presidium

(signatures of all the members of the General Presidium)

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