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Einsiedeln, Switzerland: Shrine of Our Lady of Einsiedeln

The Story of Our Lady of Einsiedeln:

Kloster_Einsiedeln-exteriorLocated south of Zurich at an elevation of about 3,000 feet is one of the most ancient and revered holy places in Europe. The shrine located here dates from sometime in the 9th Century when a hermit from one of the local monasteries, Saint Meinrad, built a hermitage on what was then open countryside and brought with him a wooden statue of the Madonna.

Meinard was known for giving hospitality to strangers, but unfortunately that led to his death. In January 861, he took in two rather rough-looking travelers and fed them. It turned out that they were thieves, and when it turned out that he had nothing of value, they beat him to death.

Then, in 940, some of the Benedictine Monks turned the hermitage into a small chapel where the statue was kept.

The story now becomes more interesting, as related in some of the ancient documents found here. When the church was due to be consecrated on September 14, 948 two Bishops kneeling before the altar suddenly saw Christ standing at the altar with angels and saints beside him! Then, when one of the Bishops tried to consecrate the church, one of the angels held him back announcing that Christ had consecrated the church the night before. September 14 is now the feast of Our Lady of Einsiedeln and a great day of celebration in the village.

About Einsiedeln Abbey:

As previously mentioned, the statue brought by Saint Meinrad was kept in the Church but both the chapel and the statue were destroyed in a fire in 1465, so the statue you see there today is a replica. It is still a source of great devotion, however, and has been blackened by so many candles over the years that is now referred to as the “Black Madonna” (as are others throughout the world). Many miracles have been credited to this devotion and the shrine draws several hundred thousand pilgrims each year.

The monastery complex includes not only the living space for the monks but also a diocesan school, ten workshops, a wine cellar for the monastery’s own wine and stables for the monastery’s own breed of horses.

The Benedictine Monks welcome visitors and encourage them to take part in their lives and discover what is probably Switzerland’s most impressive monastery complex.

Guided tours of the Abbey are available, check their website for times. At least five masses are celebrated daily at the shrine of Our Lady and in the Abbey Church.

All services are celebrated in German and/or Latin.

For a Mass in English, pilgrim groups are requested to have their own priest with them. English speaking confessors from the Abbey are available on appointment. The same applies to guided tours on the Abbey grounds.

If you plan to visit Einsiedeln Abbey with a group, or wish to book a mass in English, please contact their pilgrimage office. They are happy to help you.

Christmas market at Einsendeln Abbey in SwitzerlandThey have a great gift shop featuring their own wine, plus items made at the Abbey.

 

Einsiedeln Abbey also has an excellent Christmas Market, featuring items not only from the Abbey but from the surrounding area as well.  The market that lasts a short time, from late November until the end of the first week in December, so be sure to check ahead for the dates.

Click here for the website of  the Einsiedeln  Christmas Market.

Traveling to Einsiedeln Abbey:

You can reach Einsiedeln by train from Zurich (about 50 minutes) or Lucerne (about one hour).  From train station it is about 15 minutes walk to the monastery.   Of course you can also reach it by car (No parking is allowed on the monastery grounds, but there are public parking areas nearby).  There are a few pilgrimage groups that do include Einsiedeln in their itineraries.  The Way of Saint James (Jakobsweg) also runs through the Einsiedeln area. The many pilgrims’ hostels of the past nowadays have become hotels for holidaymakers and pilgrims.

 

Address: Kloster Einsiedeln, 8840 Einsiedeln, Switzerland

GPS coordinates:   47° 7′ 36.4512” N, 8° 45′ 9.5004” E

Tel:  +41 (0) 55 418 61 11     Fax: + 41 (0) 55 418 61 12

email:  kloster@kloster-einsiedeln.ch

Click here for the official website of Einsiedeln Abbey (there is an English language option)

⇐ Back to Catholic shrines and places of interest in Switzerland

Article sources:
1. Madden, Daniel M. , A Religious Guide to Europe,Collier Books, 1975.

Photo credits: Wikimedia

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