History » 1914 - 1919 » Period of Development » A Statue of Mary

Development of the Shrine 1914-1919

8 December 1914 – A Statue of Mary

When Fr Kentenich gave the opening talk of the new working year for the Marian Sodality in the Sodality chapel (the Chapel of St Michael) on 18 October 1914, there was no picture or sign of the Blessed Mother there. It is possible that this was the reason why he said during the talk: It seems to me that at this moment the Blessed Mother is speaking to us here in the ancient Chapel of St Michael through the mouth of the holy Archangel Michael … The people concerned took it for granted that this could not go on for long.

We owe the only memory about the introduction of a statue of our Lady into the chapel to Fr Nikolaus Wilwers in his memoir about his friend, Max Brunner, who had fallen in battle. Fr Josef Klein edited these memoirs in his booklet on Max Brunner in the series “Gelebtes Schoenstatt” (Schoenstatt in life).

On 8 December 1914 the Congregatio minor (junior Sodality) was officially founded … Max, who had in the meantime been transferred to the senior division, was accepted into the Congregatio maior (senior Sodality) on the same day. … We will not be surprised when we read the enthusiastic words he called out at the end of the admission ceremony. He had been ask to address a few words of thanks to the assembled boys on behalf of the newly accepted Sodalists. He wanted to do it to honour Mary, and had asked his heavenly Mother to give him the words that would touch the hearts of the audience. We treasure them because they are Brunner’s unique gift of love, which became a reality in his life. Turning to Mary’s statue he called out, ‘I see the Virgin’s banner aloft! My dying eyes shall never be turned from her, and my dying lips shall whisper and tremble: Ave imperatrix! Morituri te salutant! (Hail, Empress, those who are about to die, salute you!)’

A rare photo of the interior of the chaple taken during the First World War shows a statue standing in the centre of the altar. It is not known what sort of statue it was, or what became of it. It is possible that it was a statue of the Immaculate Conception, because, when the large altar picture was put up in the shrine in Spring 1915, the Sodalists would have preferred a picture of the Immacualte Conception, not that of Mother and Child.

The present picture of Mary, the MTA picture, has been in the shrine since April 1915.

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