Our Lady of Altotting Shrine
Traveling the Shrines of Germany - Our Lady of Altotting Shrine
The Lord gave us the beauty of a German winter as a backdrop to frame His beautiful shrines, first in Bavaria, possibly the most beautiful area blessed by God in the world, and then up through central Germany to a special shrine dedicated to the Miracle of the Eucharist at Walldurn. The most descriptive word we can find is breathtaking. When you think of snow-capped mountains and white silhouettes on trees and bushes, it just begins to convey the majesty of the shrines.
We were given permission to videotape three shrines in Germany, The Miracle of the Eucharist in Walldurn, the Miracle of the Eucharist in Erding, and the shrine to Our Lady of Altotting, near Munich. This was being coupled with a Day of Recollection we were giving to the American Air Force at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
Our first stop was Munich. Naturally, we arrived late. Our host couple, Tro (Dimytro) and Kathleen Schabla had driven some six hours from Ramstein Air Force base, and were waiting for us for quite a time. Also, we had a three p.m. appointment with the custodian at Altotting, Fr. Furtner. We arrived at Altottingat 2:45, completely exhausted, but not too tired to be completely enthralled by the beauty of the shrine and the town. Again, breathtaking is the first word that comes to mind. Or better, the glory of God. God, the great artist, puts His majesty on earth through a shade of this color, a bold stroke of that, an inspiration in architecture that takes your breath away. We were falling down on our feet, and all we wanted to do was to capture this magnificence on videotape. But we did use prudence, and went to sleep for an hour.
The town is a storybook setting, with buildings like we would see in Grimm's Fairy Tales, or Pinocchio, Swiss-chalet style, with thatched roofs. The rooms at the little hotel we stayed in were taken from what you would expect in the Tyrolean Alps. It was so obvious that Our Lord Jesus had molded this place in special honor of His Mother, our Mother, Mary.
Altotting is one of the oldest Marian Shrines in Germany, and one of the most frequented by pilgrims. The new custodian, only on duty for a little over a year at the shrine, Fr. Furtner, is a beautiful, rosy-cheeked outgoing priest, who has a great love for Our Lady, and has always revered this shrine to her. We will tell you a little more about this shrine in another issue, and also on our video presentation, which will be part of our series, The Many Faces of Mary, which is shown every week on EWTN. But suffice it to say that during the summertime, there are youth pilgrimages to Altotting where anywhere up to 8,000 young people come from the seat of the Diocese of Pasau, 83 kilometres (54 miles) on foot!
The chapel in honor of Our Lady, where the image of Our Lady of Altotting stands, only holds 75 to 100 people, if you jam them in. Our priest, Fr. Furtner, told us that last summer, as these thousands of youth descended on the little village shrine, he knew they would not all get to venerate the image of Our Lady. So he went inside the church, and did something unheard of. He took the statue of Our Lady out of the chapel, and kept it in the courtyard of the Shrine so that everyone would have an opportunity to visit with her. The entire outside of the chapel is covered, on all walls, with paintings attesting to miracles through the intercession of Our Lady of Altotting. These paintings go from the 17th Century, through World War II, to the present. It doesn't stop. It goes on.
Closer to Munich, actually on the other side, is the little town of Erding. Again, it is something to behold. You really have to understand something about the Bavarian area of Germany. It has always been quaint villages, inhabited by very friendly, happy people. It is the Germany of the Bruhaus (Beer Hall), that you still see during the Oktoberfest in Munich.
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Our Lady of Altotting Shrine dvd and book available
Saint Conrad - doorkeeper at Altotting and servant at the Shrine of Our Lady