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 published: 2009-05-29

60th Anniversary of the "Knights of the Holy Grail"

The Mario Hiriart Group, founder of the Boys’ Youth in Chile


Die “Ritter des Heiligen Gral”, die erste Gruppe der SMJ in Chile

Los „Caballeros del Santo Graal“, primer grupo de la JM de Chile

The “Knights of the Holy Graal”, first group of the Schoenstatt Men’s Youth in Chile

Die “Ritter des Heiligen Gral”, die erste Gruppe der SMJ in Chile






Im Schatten des Heiligtums  

A la sombra del Santuario

In the shadow of the Shrine

Im Schatten des Heiligtums






Símbolo del grupo

Group symbol


Fotos: Schoenstatt Chile/Vinculo © 2009


CHILE, Sergio González Urzúa. Upon reliving the founding period and the initial development of the Schoenstatt Boys’ Youth from Santiago since 1948 onward, the first thing that comes to mind is a special gratitude to the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Mother for having lived this history, for the Cencale Shrine of Bellavista, the contacts with our Founding Father, and because the waves of graces received in relation to the smallness of the instruments has been immense.

Particularly this is evident if you notice that this history coincides with the arrival later on of many others and with the development during these sixty years of the entire Family of Chile, which branched out from Bellavista and Valparaíso to the entire country with the reality of its Shrines and then in other ways to other countries of Latin America and beyond.

The first group of University Youth from Santiago of the Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement, has a pre-history that begins in 1945/46, when Father Benito Schneider, a German Pallotine priest, who later became a Chilean, was ordained in Chile and as a follower of Father Kentenich found the way to make contact with Chilean youth to give them the Schoenstatt pedagogy and spirituality. He arrived as the adviser of the Center of Catholic Action for the students of the Alonso de Ercilla Institute of the Marian Brothers.

During those years, he met the students, Mario Hiriart Pulido and Vicente Olea Alvarez from the 5th year of humanities and Sergio González Urzúa from the 6th year, which is the equivalent of today’s 3rd or 4th year, and he guided them spiritually without speaking directly about Schoenstatt or Father Kentenich, however they were inspired by his principles which were accepted with enthusiasm for seeming something new and modern. At the end of 1947, he spoke to the first two before leaving school; he spoke to them about Schoenstatt and he told them about its history and that of its Founder. Both of them along with Father Patricio González del Campo, whom they had met in the student Catholic Action and who wrote these lines, urged them to invite new members for this group that was being formed.

Detecting youth with apostolic restlessness

In this way, Mario Hiriart, an Engineer and the others in the field of Law, began their work to detect young men with apostolic restlessness who might be attracted to this new spirituality, characterized by their giving of self to the Blessed Mother and was appropriate to the needs of the time by departing from the respective centers of the AUC, University Catholic Action.

This work was done quietly, and the invitation to the first retreats preached by Father Benito Schneider, an extraordinary educator who in September 1948 preached about the Personal Ideal and again in May 1949 about Mary, The True Image of Man in addition to the weekly meeting on Sautrday afternoons at the House of the Pallotine Fathers at Republica 173, bore fruit bringing in new members. By the end of 1949, there were nineteen members who formed the founding youth group, which adopted the name, ideal, and mission of the "Knights of the Holy Grail." Seven of them are already in heaven, the outstanding one being our Servant of God, Mario Hiriart. Four have remained as pilgrims, who are very close as brothers in the Covenant of Love, which we sealed at different times along with eight, who remain as active members of the Schoenstatt Family. One of them is in the Institute of the Fathers, another in the Institute of Families, and the other six are in different Apostolic Federation Courses of the Families.

We can stress some aspects from the historic summary that were fundamental for the development of this small group of youth, who had recently entered the University, with all the desire and enthusiasm of changing the world, which is proper to all university students who value this, but also with all their limitations, doubts, struggles, efforts for their personal development, and for the expansion of the Movement, that as a work of God and in spite of the smallness of its instruments, exploded into Chilean society with great strength and fruitfulness.


After jointly reflecting several times since April of last year to recall, to express gratitude, to "taste and enjoy" what has happened during these sixty years, the eight who actively participate in the communities of the Family, mentioned above, agreed on several points:

  • To point out that the call we received was absolutely a free gift from the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Mother, and that it was precisely because of our weaknesses and limitations that we were chosen so there would be no doubt that what was developing, was a work of God.
  • To recognize and to express gratitude to Father Benito Schneider, who was the special instrument and extraordinary educator chosen by the Blessed Mother to awaken and to develop our personal mission within the group and that within the framework of his teachings and retreats all of which were inspired by Father Kentenich and fully reflected the Schoenstatt spirituality and pedagogy; and it was always on the horizon to respond to the great anthropological and cultural challenges of the time that had to be to develop the personal and communitarian dimensions of its members within a natural and supernatural atmosphere like every organic thing.
  • The main part of the spiritual foundation that we received during those first years was the Covenant of Love with the Blessed Mother in the Shrine, which was expressed in the constant disposition to attract her so that she could give birth to Christ and transform us through the graces of the Shrine. The quality and the depth of this attitude that we received and which matured in the group of the Knights of the Holy Grail is the greatest gift we have received from God the Father.
  • To have known Father Kentenich and to have participated in many of the activities that he developed during his visits to Chile between 1947 to 1952 of which the retreat we had with him in September 1948 was stressed; in this retreat along with the paternity that he radiated and with his talents as an educator, we perceived that we were before an extraordinary priest, a prophet who opened great horizons. He showed us a broad perspective of the world, its needs, the difficulties that man had during the middle of the 20th Century, and the responses that the Blessed Mother gave to the restlessness, he immediately conquered us forever. A few days later on the 18th of October, several of us participated in the blessing of the Cornerstone of the Shrine of Bellavista by the Founder, which he inaugurated on the May 29, 1949. On May 29th of the same year, five of them, Mario Hiriart among them, sealed their Covenant of Love with the Blessed Mother, the first ones that took place in the recently blessed Shrine. On that occasion we invited Father Kentenich, who sent us a holy card of the Blessed Mother with his greeting and signature. He excused himself for not attending because he informed us that he was working on an important document. It was nothing less than the letter of the 31st of May!
  • In this brief summary, we could not omit having been witnesses of how the Blessed Mother conquered and little by little transformed our brother, Mario Hiriart, until he became an indispensable point of reference in the lives of the Knights of the Holy Grail and who was the ultimate example of the ideals that they wanted to embody as founders, guardians, and messengers of the charism of Chilean Schoenstatt with heroic loyalty to the Covenant of Love, to the Founder, who he pointed out as "a person who could be canonized," and later on, Father Menningen held him up as an example of "the 31st of May that was lived."

Founders of Schoenstatt in Chile

Finally all of the above and much more that needs to be mentioned in spite of the brevity of this article; the seal or the characteristic mark of the Knights of the Holy Grail was to be founders of Schoenstatt in Chile, in all its breadth, with a clear conscience of their mission and of the necessity of an absolutely unconditional giving of self into the hands of the Blessed Mother so that she could carry out her role of Co-redemptress for our time using us as her favorite instruments. Our young community, with all its weaknesses and smallness took root, it became solid and had a depth that was incorporated in our lives in way such as a family does on the natural level enriching the maturity of our different vocations in the diverse states of life, being clear that the priesthood, the life of the consecrated laity, or marriage were roads that we could follow, giving ourselves to our own mission with the same vocation for sanctity and evangelization, with the same apostolic responsibility to the Church, with Schoenstatt, and the world. In this way, we all felt united, responsible and respectful of their own roads, of the autonomy of development that each one needed, and when the voice of God called, we assumed and we integrated into the official structure established for Schoenstatt by the Founder according to the vocations and state of life of each one to the point of giving the first steps for the surge of the Federation and the Institute of Families.

We could say that the beginning and the development of these communities has been a driving force of the Schoenstatt Work, and in a way they mark the culmination of the fundamental task of the Knights of the Holy Grail.

Origin and meaning of the ideal of the Knights of the Holy Grail

Just as each member of Schoenstatt orients and regulates his life through the "personal ideal," each group synthesizes the aspirations of its members with a community ideal that fits the ideals of its members and expresses the main ideal that encourages them in their struggle to conquer the atmosphere and of their own aspirations for holiness. At the end of 1949, the founding group members began to propose to one another the restlessness to find an ideal that would express what they had been reflecting on as elements of the group and one Sunday morning close to the Shrine of Bellavista, Father Benito related the story of the Holy Grail inspired by Scene VI of Act III of Lohengrin by Richard Wagner, which in synthesis narrates the existence of a far away place, where in a castle there was kept a sacred vessel that had been used by Christ during the Last Supper when the Eucharist was instituted. The angels piously guarded the most pure men who they infused with superhuman ardor, power, and certainty of victory whenever they went out to travel through the world to protect rights, virtue, and to serve the weakest and most needy.

Every Good Friday, the Knights returned to the castle since a Dove crossed the space, renewingthe splendor of the Sacred Chalice and also renewing the knights so they can continue with their mission.

The theme of the legend of the Grail inflamed the members of the group that morning, and in the following weeks, they were convinced that they had found the thread to develop a beautiful symbolism that would express who they are: the Shrine would be the Castle of Grail, the Covenant of Love the mystery of the Holy Grail, Bellavista at the foot of the mountain range would be the headquarters of the new Grail in Chile, the Mother of God would be the Queen of the Grail, and the community formed by the group would be the Knights of the Holy Grail.

Later, the group designed its flag in the shape of a pendant that symbolized the content of their ideal: on a white background, there was a blood red silhouette of the Shrine; there was a gold chalice in its interior crossed from top to bottom with a sword, and above this the Holy Spirit. This flag was blessed in a nightlong vigil in the Shrine, and it was made known the next day in a ceremony with all the founding generation of the Ver Sacrum (Holy Truth). The flag accompanied the Group in all of its ceremonies, and this original flag was buried on October 16, 1965 close to the first black cross of the Chilean Schoenstatt, Mario Hriart, in his tomb behind the Cenacle Shrine of Bellavista.

Source: Vinculo magazine, Chile

Translation: Antonio Bunster, JMU Bellavista, Chile



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