History » 1939 - 1969 » 1958 Swiss Chain

Fr Josef Gürber about the “Swiss Chain”

1st Report in: Fr Joseph Grass, History of our Shrine, St. Gallen 1972, p 427 ff.

Ebikon, 18 November 1958

A conversation! 10 August 1958, in the evening at Schoenstatt! On the way from the College to the shrine I met Brother Peter Schildgen. He is the gardener and looks after the area round the shrine. He had observed our group “Building Journeymen” and had heard that there were profession people among the students. “For a long time I have wanted a cast iron chain in front of the heroes’ graves in order to keep the pilgrims off. Perhaps one of you Swiss would like to take on the job.”

An idea! The conversation followed me through the night. I wanted to think about accepting it. Gradually I began to like the offer, because its hidden meaning attracted me. Didn’t it give symbolic expression to our province ideal and mission: “Faithful to our homeland and our wonderful calling, we will not rest until a new realm is created around us”. The fundamental attitude of faithfulness is easy to connect with a chain. A second interpretation was just as strong: A chain consists of links; it connects and unites members. It has always been Switzerland’s task to unite the most varied languages and cultures, races and tribes in our own country, as well as to exemplify and champion the cause of peace and fruitful co-operation internationally. So it seemed that God had given us a similar task in the Pallottine Society – to be a connecting link between the Society and Schoenstatt.

Even though I have only hinted at the spiritual background, I consider that a suggestion is in place. The opportunity has arisen for the first time and is unique.

Let us consider whether this chain could be a valid expression of our mission; let us discuss in our house community or group, as Fathers, Brothers and Seminarians how we can work spiritually for this symbol and sacrifice for it.

Also the artistic execution of the chain has to be panned and suggested. Whoever can spare some money can help in this way as well. The price should not exceed a hundred Franken at most. If there is too much money in the “chain account” in Ebikon, we can give it to Brother Peter Schildgen for further beautifying the heroes’ graves.

All the necessary permissions have been obtained, especially that of the competent Rector in Schoenstatt. By Christmas there should be sufficient plans and suggestions.

With sincere greetings, Fr Josef Guerber

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