Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our Swiss Lady

Greetings,

Today, the Church celebrates Our Lady under the title "Our Lady of Carmel".  However, the American Benedictine monasteries and abbeys founded from Swiss ancestors celebrated "Our Lady of Einsiedeln". 


 In the 9th century, the monk St. Meinrad, of the family of the Counts of Hohenzollern, left one of the local monasteries to built a hermitage in the wilderness that would later become Einsiedeln. He took with him a miracle-working statue of the Virgin Mary given to him by the Abbess Hildegarde of Zürich. He soon became well-known in the local village for his kindness and holiness, and received many visitors and gifts.

On January 21, 861, two thieves murdered Meinrad for the treasure in his hermitage. According to legend, the murderers were apprehended after two ravens followed them into town and drew attention to them with loud squawking.

In 940, a small group of Benedictine monks transformed Meinrad's little hermitage into the Lady Chapel. The chapel is said to have been consecrated by Christ himself on September 14, 948. The bishop who was to consecrate the new site had a vision in which the church was filled with a brilliant light as Christ approached the altar; the next day, when he went to perform the ceremony, he heard a voice saying the chapel had already been divinely consecrated. The miracle was confirmed by Pope Leo VIII 16 years later in a papal bull.

St. Meinrad had the Black Madonna statue (its dark color traditionally explained by years of candle smoke) as part of his altarpiece; after his death it was placed in the Lady Chapel for veneration. Many miracles were attributed to the intercession of "Our Lady of Einsiedeln," and pilgrimages to Einsiedeln began shortly after 1000 AD. (Sacred Destinations.com)

 

"You are the glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel; you are the fairest honor of our race." ~ Lauds Antiphon.

Our monastery's foundresses came from Maria Rickenbach on a musenalp above the city of Niederbach.  As a part of the Swiss-American foundations, we continue to honor Our Lady of Einsiedeln.  Within Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel, we have a side or transept chapel dedicated to our Swiss Lady.  For years, our Swiss and German sisters who worked in the embroidery dressed the Madonna and Child in elaborate gowns of the liturgical seasons.  Only later did we discover her beautifully carved gown of red and gentle arm embracing the Child Jesus...so now we leave her uncovered.

Blessings,


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