Austria's great Marian shrine is 800 years old this year
MARIAZELL, Austria's great shrine of Our Lady, is BOO years old this year. Celebrations began on May 1 and will go on until October 15.
Besides Austrian Archbishops and Bishops, three Cardinals, two Archbishops and eight Bishops from other countries are expected to take part.
Although not so well known as Lourdes and Fatima, Mariazell (Mary's cell) has nevertheless drawn pilgrims from all over Europe. Emperor Francis-Joseph and his Empress led the 700th anniversary celebration in 1857, when there were 30,000 visitors.
Many miracles have been claimed there over the centuries.
According to legend, the shrine was founded by a Benedictine monk from the Abbey of Lambrecht who had been sent as a missionary to the shepherds and woodsmen of the area. Carrying a wooden statue of Our Lady, he lost his way among the mountains and collapsed from fatigue.
He prayed to Our Lady for help and his prayer was answered. He found a passage to the valley, where he set down the statue and built a tent in her honour.
Today there is a great church of Gothic and Baroque proportions there. The year 1157 is generally accepted as the date when the first permanent chapel was built.
This year's celebrations were opened by Cardinal Wendel, Archbishop of Munich: Salzburg, the ecclesiastical province in which Mariazell stands, is under the patronage of St. Rupert. a Bavarian--Munich is the capital of Bavaria.
There is to be a " Day of Union " devoted to prayers for the reunion of the schismatic F.astern Churches on July 14. Cardinal Tisserant, Dean of the Sacred College, will preside and the exiled UkranianS from various Western European countries will make a pilgrimage, led by their Apostolic Visitor. Archbishop Buczko.
From August 1 to 4, Pax Christi celebrates its world congress under the presidency of Cardinal Feltin, Archbishop of Paris. Bishop Scheer of Eichstatt and Bishop Theas of Tarbes and Lourdes will be present.
Groups of Hungarian pilgrims are also expected.
The climax of.the celebrations will be a festival week from September 8 to 15, the basilica's feast day. On the feast day itself, the entire Austrian Hierarchy, the Government and numerous other dignitaries will gather there.
The Papal Nuncio. Archbishop Dellepiane, will celebrate Pontifical High Mass, and an address will be given in the afternoon by the Chancellor of Austria, Herr Raab.
A stamp commemorating the 800th anniversary of the founding of the shrine of Our Lady of Manazell has been prepared by the Austrian government. It will be issued this summer when Mariann opens the official observance of the anniversary, and will show the shrine itself.