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 published: 2003-04-15

Schoenstatt in Rome - Father Kentenich in the heart of the church

Roman Reflections: The future International Schoenstatt Center in Rome, gift and challenge of the entire international family

16 de noviembre de 1965, en el terreno de Belmonte: P. José Kentenich, Mons. Heinrich Tenhumberg (d. izq.); de espalda: Monseñor Bolte, Maria Keymeier

November 16, 1965, on the land of Belmonte: Fr. Kentenich, Auxiliary Bishop Tenhumberg (from l.); back: Bishop Bolte, Maria Kleymeier

Auf dem Grundstück Belmonte am Nachmittag der Geburtstagsfeier (v.l.) Pater Kentenich, WB Tenhumberg (mit dem Rücken zum Beschauer: Bischof Bolte, Maria Kleymeier)


16 de noviembre de 1965: En el terreno de Belmonte, lugar del futuro Centro Internacional

November 16, 1965: on the land of Belmonte, place of the future International Center

Auf dem Grundstück Belmonte am Nachmittag der Geburtstagsfeier, 16. 11. 1965



Cumpleaños del Padre Kentenich in Roma: der.: Gertrud Gramlich, superiora general del Instituto de Señoras de Schoenstatt (Frauen), Bruno M. Herberger, Superior General del Instituto de los Hermanos de María

Birthday party for Fr. Kentenich; right: Gertrud Gramlich, superior general of the Insitute of the Ladies of Schoenstatt; Bruno M. Herberger, superior general of the Brothers of Mary

Bei der Geburtstagsfeier – ganz rechts: Generaloberin Gertrud Gramlich (Frauen von Schönstatt), Generaloberer Bruno M. Herberger (Marienbruder)



Roma, 16 de noviembre de 1965: Monseñor Heinrich Tenhumberg, Obispo Auxiliar y Presidente del Consejo General de Schoenstatt, simbolicamente entregó al Padre Kentenich el Santuario y Centro Internacional de Roma

Rome, November 16, 1965: Auxiliary Bishop Heinrich Tenhumberg, President of the General Presidium of Schoenstatt, symbolically gives the International Schoenstatt Center and Shrine in Rome to Father Kentenich

WB Tenhumberg übergibt P. Kentenich symbolisch das Romheiligtum und –zentrum


Fotos: Archiv Berg Moriah © 2003

ROME, Fr. Alberto Eronti. Monsignor Peter Wolf, Director General of the Schoenstatt Institute of Diocesan Priests, April 2 - 6, 2003, visited Rome. His journey took place in connection with the construction of the Shrine "Matri Ecclesiae" in Belmonte, at Via di Boccea. He visitied the Bishop of the diocese of Porto Santa Rufina, Gino Reali - the land is in the area of this diocese -, in order to get to know him, present the project and ask for the diocesan building permission. The two Schoenstatt Fathers in Rome met twice with Father Peter Wolf in order to exchange first preliminary ideas about the corner stone laying on come December 8, 2003, and the dedication of the Shrine in September 2004.

From now on, the "Roman Reflections", in co-operation with the web site, will inform on a regular base about this initiative born from the heart of Father Kentenich. A brief historical outline shall serve as a solid base for the international Schoenstatt family, with the aim that all know the driving forces, and symbols behind this longstanding desire for an International Center in Rome.


  • Februar 26 through March 15: first stay of Father Kentenich in Rome
  • March 14: Private Audience with Pope Pius XII.
  • Father Kentenich speaks about the possibility to buy a land (a "garden" near the Casa Pallotti) in order to build a Shrine in Rome. It is an idea first expressed by Father Kentenich in Schoenstatt already on April 2, 1939.


  • October: Pope John XXIII opens Vatican II.
  • November: the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary get permission to set up their first filiation in Rome.


  • September 17: Arrival of Father Kentenich in Rome, coming from Milwauke.
  • October 20: General Meeting of the "Holy Office" (the congregation that imposed the separation of Father Kentenich from his work); the cardinals decide to move the issue "Kentenich" to the Congregation of the Religious Orders and Institutes.
  • October 22: Pope Paul VI. confirms the decision of the Holy Office. This day and moment end - to the day after 14 years - Father Kentenich's exile. Father Kentenich later says that this is the fourth milestone in the history of the Schoenstatt family:
  • On October 16, Father Kentenich for the first time visits the grounds at the Via di Boccea, in the Casalotti neighborhood.
  • On November 16, he visits the grounds a second time.
  • On behalf of the celebration of his 80th birthday (on that November 16), the representatives of the Schoenstatt family that are present in Rome, give to Father Kentenich "the Shrine of the Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt in the city of the Holy Father". Father Kentenich speaks about the project as the International Schoenstatt Center in Rome. He sees it linked to the Church that is to fulfill the porgram of Vatican II; picking up the words and intentions of Pope Paul VI, he speaks about the future "Matri Ecclesiae" Shrine (Mutter der Kirche), Mothe rof the Church. He wants to emphasize the maternal role of Mary in view of the church, especially in view of the application of the decisions of Vatincan II:
  • He asks the Institute of the diocesan Priests - a strong stream of life is already vital in their ranks -, to take the responsibility for the project to be realized in co-operation with the other Institutes.
  • On December 8, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Paul VI closes Vatican II. The act takes place on St. Peter's Square; during this celebration, Paul VI blesses the corner stone for the future church "Mother of the Church", that later would be built in the new Roman neighborhood EUR. Father Kentenich is not present; but the Schoenstatt members who are present took along the wayside shrine of the MTA for the future Center. During the celebration, this wayside shrine receives the papal blessing.
  • The wayside shrine is erected that same afternoon at Belmonte.
  • On December 22, Father Kentenich meets with Pope Paul VI in private audience. Father Kentenich's gift to him is a chalice for the new Church "Mother of the Church", Mater Ecclesiae. Thus, the longings of the Pope, and of Father Kentenich, unite. Both see and proclaim Mary as mother and model of the church at the new shores.
  • On December 24, the day before Christmas, Father Kentenich heads to Schoenstatt.


  • January 14 through February 11, Father Kentenich again is in Rome to resolve some pending issues.
  • On February 2, Candlemas Day, Father Kentenich for the third and last time vistis the land in Casalotti. The MTA wayside shrine was already erected. Father Kentenich speaks about the "Candlemas Vision", that means: put Schoenstatt at the service of the church, and that the mission of the family is fully understood and accepted by the hierarchy.


  • Late afternoon of September 14, Father Kentenich meets with some representantatives of the Institute of Diocesan Priests. The theme of their encounter: The International Rome Center. On the other day, after having said the Holy mass for the first time in the new Church of the Holy Trinity, Father Kentenich is called home to the Eternal Father.

So far this outline of the most decisive events in the history of the International Schoenstatt Center Belmonte (Beautiful Mountain).

A gift of the entire family

It seems important to emphasize that the represantatives of the Schoenstatt Movement who promised to Father Kentenich the construction of this Center, acted in the name of the International Schoenstatt Family. What does that mean? It means, that in the interwovenness of destinies and mission, we all are responsible for the construction and fruitfulness of the Matri Ecclesiae Shrine. We all are called to live the words of the First Founding Document: "Do not worry about the fulfillment of your desire... I love those who love me (Prv 8,17). Prove to me first that you really love me, that you take your resolution seriously. Just now you have the best oppotunity to do so. According to the plan of Divine Providence, the ... war is meant ot be an extraordinary means in the work of your self-sanctification." (First Founding document, 11)

Just now you have the best oppotunity to do so

Last Saturday I made a pilgrimage to the land; the warm, sunny day made for good prayers and a moment of profound encounter woth the place, and Our Lady. Approximately 40 sheep were grazing in the upper part of the land. I thought of the image of the "Good shepherd" so often cited by our Father. Standing by the wayside shrine I imagined our Father standing there, blessing the place by his presence. Indeed, I could not stop wondering: Did our Father stand here? I realized the "load" of the mission that his person and his presence left here. Indeed, this is to become a new "beautiful place", a new Schoenstatt. this is to be "Belmonte", "beautiful mountain", a new Tabor of the glories of Mary. One can't help but ponder the words of the First Founding Document. "Just now you have the best opportunity to do so." - "Undoubtedly, we could not accomplish a greater apostolic deed nor leave our successors a more precious legacy than to urge our Lady and Queen to erect her throne here in a special way..." - "How often in world history have not small and insignificant beginnings been the source of great and greatest accomplishments?" - "Future generations may then pass their judgement upon us."

This prjects need "shareholder value", needs tokens of love, needs capital of grace, and the Blessed Mother expects this from the entire family. "It would be a sublime task, worthy of the diligence and labor of the noblest..."

Then it will please her to dwell in Belmonte, then the porphetic vision of our Father and Founder will be fulfilled. Hopefully, step by step, a strong stream of life and grace will surge in our International Family, so that we say: Yes, Father, we go with you - to Rome!

Two brief good news of our MTA's recent work in Rome and Italy

Fr. Ludovico Tedeschi visited Zelarino, Mestre. From Trento, Rosita Ciola (Mothers' Federation, Argentina from the diocese of St. Martin, now living in Italy) came to meet with Fr. Ludovico, and Marlene, who leads two groups of families, and a mothers' group there. Both got to know each other and started to co-ordinate the work in the north, with special emphasize of the growth of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign. In Argentina, Rosita Ciola was in the National Team of the Campaign.

On April 6, the first pilgrimage of a Roman parish to the Cor Ecclesiae Shrine was a real succes. The parish priest, three nuns working in the parish, and approximately 40 faithful, took part. The Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary welcomed them with their typical hospitality. Returning from the pilgrimage, the parish priest gave permission to launch the Campaign in his parish.

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