Original Shrine Shining after Spring Renovation
Schoenstatt's most precious treasure – a little chapel
(mkf) On April 1, the Original Shrine was re-opened after four days of renovation. All the Schoenstatt Shrines around the world are bound to this first covenant place, where Father Kentenich made the covenant of love with Mary on October 18, 1914.
"I am convinced to be at one of the most holy places of the world!" For Patricia V., a student from Portugal, this is a moment for which she prepared and longed for years – to once pray in the shrine where it all began. She knows Schoenstatt in Lisbon. But this is Original Schoenstatt, the first shrine. "I can't imagine anything more beautiful than spending a long time in the Original Shrine," shares a young woman from Wesel in Northern Germany. "Yet, one thing: to share my joy in the covenant with others. Schoenstatt lives out of the Original Shrine and the covenant."
Since April 1, the Original Shrine is opened again, after a couple of days' renovation. From 6:15AM through 7:00Pm (8:00PM from May), the Original Shrine is open for holy Masses, and personal prayer – and it is never empty. Adoration sisters from Brazil, and members of the various Schoenstatt communities guarantee the hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The interior and exterior of the Original Shrine are painted with radiant white color. "Coming from the Bundesheim or the street to Hillscheid, you see the Original Shrine shining," a visitor shares. Since several old trees were cut down around the Original shrine, it is visible from a much bigger distance now – which adds to the impression of the "shining shrine". New tall trees are to be planted, however, to give some shadow in summer. The wires for the loudspeakers were removed to the interior. Schoenstatt's most precious treasure, the little chapel in the valley, "is simply so neat and beautiful now," says a visitor.
A Home for Millions
Inside the shrine, it is not only the new white painting that makes it appear brighter. The MTA picture is shining more than before. Brother Martin, a Pallottine, spend hours to find and install other bulbs for the light frame surrounding the MTA picture. "It's so much brighter and warmer now," says Father Rummel SAC, the director of the Original Shrine.
The Original shrine, a 19th century chapel rooting back to a medieval sanctuary, is the founding place of the international Schoenstatt movement.
Here, Father Kentenich gave a talk to the members of the "Marian sodality", on October 18, 1914, which is know as Schoenstatt's founding document. In this hour, the covenant of love was made with Mary, the Mother of God – Schoenstatt's source of life. The young people's heart were set afire for the vision of a renewal of church and society from this little shrine – with the help and under the guidance of Mary, whom they invited to be part of their every-day life and to take up her abode in the little shrine – as mother and educator, as covenant partner. In school, and later as soldiers in word War I, they gave all for this new vision: Mary would take their efforts to give a home to others, and to lead them homeward to the Triune God.
The spontaneous idea of some of them, to replace the little chapel by a greater one in thanksgiving for all they had received from Mary, became reality in a different but effective way. The Original Shrine was not replaced – but widened: Today, there are about 150 replica shrines in 33 countries of the world, some of them visited by 35,000 or 40,000 persons on one day. The youngest one was inaugurated on March 19, 2000, in Brasília. Others are to follow in the course of this year – in Paderborn, Bamberg (Germany), Manchester (England), Poços de Caldas (Brazil), Ciudad Este (Paraguay).... More: a universe of shrines exists, numbering millions: home shrines, work shrines, pilgrim shrines.
"If Schoenstatt is merely a beautiful place, there are other beautiful places," said Father Kentenich. "If the people here are merely noble, there are noble people elsewhere. What attracts us to Schoenstatt is precisely the 'burning thornbush'. It is the deep conviction of the reality of the divine in this place.... Here the Blessed Mother dwells and works in a special way. She dwells and works, she is active and transforms, she forms and molds, she changes and sends forth." – What happened in Schoenstatt on October 18, 1914, is repeated where ever any shrine is erected: "The Blessed Mother has not only taken up her abode in the Original Shrine, but also wherever a shrine is built or an MTA-picture is placed in faith and looked on in faith," says Fr. Kentenich. Does she work?
"Yes," says a young woman. "She does. She did with me. I never felt such a love to anything or anybody in my life, as I feel for God 'since Schoenstatt. I am motivated to share this joy with anyone!"