PREGNANT MADONNA,THE SANCTUARY OF ST. MARY OF THE ASSUMPTION, BOGENBERG, AUSTRIA
AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN
The Sanctuary of St. Mary of the Assumption (Pilgrimage church Mariä Himmelfahrt)
Pregnant Madonna (detail)
The Sanctuary of St. Mary of the Assumption in Altotting Bogenberg on a hill overlooking the Danube is the second largest and oldest pilgrimage site in Bavaria.
The special feature of the arc mountain church is the sculpture of the pregnant Madonna (window in the womb with baby Jesus). Madonna. Bogen’s greatest claim to fame is this shrine to Mary high atop Bogenberg.
According to the legend, the Romanesque stone sculpture of Our Lady was found floating upstream on the Danube in 1104. In 1295 the chronicle of Oberalteich monastery for the first time mentions the legend of how the miracle-working statue which is revered in Bogenberg Church was found. According to that legend the statue had been floating upstream in the Danube and had landed on a rock in the river, which appears when the water level is low. This rock is still called “Marienstein”, i.e. Marys stone. Count Aswin of Bogen is said to have recovered the statue from the rock and to have taken it to the chapel of his castle. Then a church was built on Bogenberg Hill for the statue and the hill with the church was given to the monks of Oberalteich, who encouraged the pilgrimage to the miraculous statue. The statue shows Holy Mary heavy with child. It is also the reason why many of the pilgrims who came/come to Bogenberg were/are women praying for a good childbirth.
“In Advent Christ rested in Mary still, silent, helpless, utterly dependent. The Creator trusted Himself to His creature….This was a foreshadowing of what the Incarnation would mean for us; for in us too, Christ rests as He rested in Mary. From the moment when the Christ life is conceived in us, our life is intended for one thing, the expression of His love, His love for God and for the world…. We must allow the Christ life to grow in us in rest. Our whole being must fold upon Christ’s rest in us, as the earth folds upon the seed.” Caryll Houselander, The Passion of the Infant Christ (London: Sheed and Ward, 1949).