In the last two turbulent years of the war you could feel how the love of the sodalists and of an increasing number of others for the shrine increased. They increasingly experienced that it was the home of their souls, the centre of the Movement, and as a symbol of the goals of the Sodality, but above all as a place of grace. So it was good that any changes in and around the shrine were kept in check in order not to give rise to even greater restlessness.
This is beautifully expressed in a letter from Albert Eise that was written in the middle of these two years on 23 November 1917.
Love for the shrine found beautiful expression in Fritz Esser and what he did. Fritz was born on 20.11.1900 and died on 18.1.1924. He was almost two years younger than Joseph Engling, but they were in the same class. In a series entitled “Schoenstatt in Life” written in 1954, Fr Josef Klein wrote a biography on Fritz Esser in which his concern for the shrine was highlighted.
On 16.4.1918 Fritz Esser wrote to his friend, Andreas Schaefer:
„In the meantime we have laid out a little garden around our chapel. It is already very beautiful, but it must become much more beautiful.“
A few days later, on 9 May 1918 he told Paul Reinhod about his plan, which he carried out in 1919, to make a light frame to surround the MTA picture in the shrine.
„We are already in the middle of the lovely month of May. I again decorated our chaple very beautifully yesterday, and for May I have made two extra things two stands for the flowers on both sides of the picture. Besides this, the panels of honor for the Iron Crosses are also in the shrine. Perhaps an arch with electric lighting will still come in.“
On the two walls on either side of the altar a sort of wooden box was put up provisionally in 1918 so that the war decorations of the soldier Sodalists could be fixed there. This was replaced in July 1919 by a solid wooden panel to which the Iron Crosses were attached. It can still be seen there today.