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 published: 2007-10-05

Saint Nicholas de Flue – a saint for peace in Burundi

Students' Pilgrimage to the Shrine in Mount Sion Gikungu, Burundi


Bujumbura, Mont Sion Gikungu: 11. Gründungstag des Chors Niklaus von der Flüe, und Schülerwallfahrt

Bujumbura, Monte Sion Gikungu: 11° aniversario del coro San Nicolás de Flue y peregrinación de estudiantes

Bujumbura, Mount Sion Gikungu: 11th anniversary of the Choir St. Nicolas of Flue, and students’ pilgrimage

Bujumbura, Mont Sion Gikungu: 11. Gründungstag des Chors Niklaus von der Flüe, und Schülerwallfahrt


Die Statue des Heiligen wird zum Heiligtum getragen

Entrega de la estatua del santo

Offering of the statue of the saint

Die Statue des Heiligen wird zum Heiligtum getragen

Das Heiligtum von Mont Sion Gikungu  

El Santuario de Monte Sion Gikungu

The Shrine of Mount Sion Gikungu

Das Heiligtum von Mont Sion Gikungu

Fotos: Marahukiro © 2007


BURUNDI, Fr. Deogratias Marahukiro.  Sunday, 30 September was a special day on Mount Zion Gikungu. Not only was it the last Sunday of September and therefore, normally Pilgrimage Sunday, but the Saint Nicholas de Flue choir celebrated its eleventh anniversary. Furthermore, the Schoenstatt pupils invited students from other schools join them on a pilgrimage to open the new school year.

As a result, the liturgy on this Sunday was as beautiful as it was rich, above all symbolically rich.

An offering of a book and a pen to the Queen of Peace:

The symbols were interesting and unique, but above all, these symbols were richly charged with meaning. The Schoenstatt pupils, who were accompanied by children belonging to other Catholic movements, wanted to start the school year with a pilgrimage in which they would entrust the academic year to the Virgin Mary. This was a very touching initiative, which should be encouraged as this could begin a powerful tradition for the students, who will think of entrusting themselves to the Virgin Mary at the beginning of every school year. If it is encouraged, it will also allow the Schoenstatt pupils to help other school children to find the Virgin Mary in the Shrine. The pupils did not just make a pilgrimage, they knew that they were giving themselves to the royal heart (Ku kirimba), and anyone who goes to the heart never comes back empty-handed. He returns with a gift. This is why they came offering gifts to the Queen. They presented, in their own words "a hoe that they use to tend their science garden at school." They also presented a book and pen. Through these symbols, they presented all the work that they will do this year. And they know that they won’t be alone: the Mother of God will be with them throughout the year.

Eleven and a crown of roses offered by the Saint Nicholas de Flue Choir

The Saint Nicholas de Flue Choir celebrated their eleventh anniversary. For this reason they included an offering of eleven candles carried by some of the dancers in the choir. In addition to the candles, the choir also wanted to give a special present:

A crown of roses. Why such a crown ? Because the choir also wanted to contribute to the crowning of the Holy Virgin as the Queen of Peace. They knew that in crowning the Virgin Mary, they are also committing themselves to promoting peace in Burundi. They understand that the life of this crowning is at the heart of St. Nicholas de Flue’s mission. St. Nicholas de Flue had a special mission in this tiny country, once known as Africa’s Switzerland. This is also why St. Nicholas de Flue was at the heart of the liturgical celebration.

A statue of St. Nicholas de Flue led the procession at the beginning of Mass. A large man was asked to carry the statue as high as possible. The procession began moving in time with the music. Joy seemed to glow from the face of St. Nicholas’ statue. The almost disfigured face of the statue appeared to have been transfigured and took on a new expression as the sun’s rays shone from it. The opening hymn was magnificently directed by Mount Zion’s "famous choir master," Mr. Matthias, and this set the tone so that the entire Eucharistic celebration could as beautiful as possible.

The most touching moment was the thanksgiving, after the presentation of the symbols during the offertory. It was beautiful to watch the entire people of God lifting up their hands to dance and praise the Lord. This gave the idea and image of what heaven must be, a place of praise and worship before the true God. In fact, if our liturgy is spoken with sincerity, it becomes a participation and foretaste of heaven.

At the end of Mass, we processed, or rather, we "pilgrimaged" to the Shrine accompanied by St. Nicholas de Flue, the saint of peace and took the crown of roses with us to offer it to Mary. The Saint Nicholas de Flue Choir wanted to place this symbolic and meaning full gift in the most important place, there where Mary has placed her royal throne, in the Shrine. We could also say that St. Nicholas accompanied us to ask Mary, the Queen of Peace for peace. The crown of flowers was a small gesture and may seem insignificant in the eyes of many, but it was loaded with meaning and symbolism. It means that we believe that Mary is truly the Queen of peace and is able to intercede for us, asking for peace in our hearts and in our country. It means that we are not alone, we walk with St. Nicholas de Flue, the saint of peace. It also means each one of us, particularly the Saint Nicholas de Flue Choir, are committed to promoting peace and making this gesture fruitful. Finally, it also calls all of us to be missionaries and apostles of a new culture that is being born: a culture of peace.

In conclusion, we thank all those who made this beautiful day possible, we thank those who prayed that everything would go well and above all, for those who prayed for rain, as we felt the very first drops beginning to fall. We also thank all those in the International Schoenstatt Family who were present with us in prayer.

Original: French

Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Johannesburg, South Africa



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