About the Schoenstatt Movement & Fr. Josef Kentenich:
Father Josef Kentenich was the spiritual director at a junior seminary of the Pallottine fathers preparing missionaries for Africa. In 1914, almost two years after Fr. Kentenich became the spiritual director for the young minor seminarians, he used it as a meeting place for a group of students who were striving for a different way of living.
Father Kentenich was inspired by the work of Bartolo Longo in creating the Shrine to Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompei, and wished to create a shrine to Mary at Schoenstatt. Fr. Kentenich asked for the use of the abandoned chapel once dedicated to Saint Michael. The superior agreed and the young boys began to restore the chapel, which they started to use in August of that year.
They sealed a covenant, “a covenant of love,” with Mary in a small chapel in Schoenstatt. Its’ content is the petition to the Mother of God to be present in this chapel in a special way and to work as the educator of the free person. Father Kentenich and the boys trusted that a place of pilgrimage and grace for many people would develop here. They wanted to give their own contributions toward this goal through a radical life based on faith and engagement for Schoenstatt. “Nothing without you – nothing without us” was the short formula for the intensive communal life with Mary that now began.
From 1941 to 1945, Father Kentenich was a prisoner of the Nazis, first in the prison in Koblenz, later in the concentration camp in Dachau. He continued to work fearlessly in the concentration camp for his life’s task to proclaim God’s merciful love to people and to help them with Mary’s help to become great lovers. Through Father Kentenich many prisoners could experience God intimately in the hell of Dachau. He survived the camps which were liberated by U.S. troops on April 29, 1945. In 1947 and 1948 Father Kentenich began journeys to South America, Africa, and the USA in order to foster international contacts and to help the Schoenstatt members in these countries to build up the movement. His love for the Mother of God urged him to engage himself for her all over the world.
From 1951 to 1965, the Church separated Father Kentenich from his work. Milwaukee WI (USA) was assigned to him as residence. Competent ecclesial authorities examined him and his foundation. Father Kentenich’s love for the Church and faithfulness to his work proved themselves during the long years of his absence from Schoenstatt.
On Christmas Eve in 1965, he returned to Schoenstatt and continued his ministry up until his death in 1968. He died shortly after celebrating his first Mass in the newly built Trinity Church on Mount Schoenstatt.
A central point in the movement’s dynamics and faith is the devotion to the Shrine, based on the first shrine in Schoenstatt where the movement started with a special devotion to Mary and now there are there are over two hundred Schoenstatt Shrines in more than thirty countries around the world…each one a copy of the Shrine here in Vallendar.
Many people make pilgrimages there and ask Mary for the grace to realize their Christian calling in the midst of all the challenges of life in Church and society.
About Schoenstatt Vallendar:
It is important to know that, contrary to what some people think, Schoenstatt is not a building but a village, stretching across the valley that gives the Schoenstatt Movement its name to the easternmost part of Vallendar and Westerwald. There are two main sites of interest here in Vallendar:
The Original Shrine
The heart of Schoenstatt beats within these walls. Everyone who “comes home” prepares their own heart for a personal encounter with the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt. The chapel that gave origin to the Schoenstatt Movement was once dedicated to Saint Michael. Its existence is first mentioned in 1319. It was plundered and destroyed twice but was later rebuilt in 1681 and in 1812. The building as we know it today, dates back to the second reconstruction. At the time, it is thought that it a was used as a cemetery chapel.
Church of the Most Holy Trinity (Adoration Church)
Fr. Kentenich and the Family promised to build a church in honor of the Blessed Sacrament if God, though the Blessed Virgin, protected Schoenstatt against the Nazi threat. The fact that none of the houses in Schoenstatt were destroyed by the war is a sign of her protection. In 1960, architect Alexander Von Branca drew up the plans and two Sisters of Mary designed the stained glass windows and interior symbolism of the church. On 9 June 1968 on Trinity Sunday, Monsignor Stein, the bishop of Trier, consecrated the church.
In 1967, the Founder described the Church in these words: “Our church is a castle of God which wants to be the home of the Triune God. There the Triune God lives and reigns – the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. And where they are, the Blessed Virgin is also. This is why in our Trinitarian cathedral, the Mother of God also has a place of honor as the Thrice Admirable Mother, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt.”
The seven structures in the fountain that can be found outside of the church, upon which the cross is raised, symbolise the Church’s sacraments, the “streams of living water” (cf. John 7:38) that arise from the cross.
Mass Times – Sundays: 9:00 (in German) – Each 15th of the month at 7:00 AM (German)
Tomb of Father Kentenich
On the morning of 15 September 1968, Fr. Kentenich celebrated his first and last Mass in the Adoration Church. After the Mass at seven in the morning, he returned to the sacristy and died of a heart attack. A small reddish carpet with the inscription: “the way leads heavenwards” shows us the exact place where he rested eternally.
On 20 September his mortal remains were placed in the sarcophagus that was built over the place where he died. Over his tomb are the words that he wished to have as his epitaph: “Dilexit Ecclesiam” (He loved the Church).
The process for his canonisation was opened in the Trier Diocese in 1975.
The tomb of Father Kentenich can be visited during the opening hours of the adoration church: from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM (winter) / 7:00 PM (summer). Private hours can be reserved for the time from 6:00 PM/7:00 PM to 6:00 AM.
On July 9, 1947, Pope Pius XII granted a plenary indulgence to all those who would visit the shrine as pilgrims and who fulfill the necessary requirements.
There is daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the shrine.
The Original Shrine is open from 6:00 to 21:00
Weekdays: 6:30 AM , 7:15 AM , and 8:00 AM
Sundays and Feast days: 7:00 AM
For groups, there is the possibility of reserving the Original Shrine to celebrate mass in the morning until 12:00 AM.
Click here for the information website of the Schoenstatt Shrine in Vallendar.
Finding the Schoenstatt Shrine in Vallendar:
Vallendar is about 50 miles northwest of Frankfurt and southeast of Bonn. It is easily reached by train from both cities with connections through Koblenz. Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
Address: Pallottistr. 1, 56179 Vallendar, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Tel: +1 (49) 0261-6404337 (answered in German)
email: [email protected]