Our Lady of Kevelaer

Our Lady of Kevelaer (Germany)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Marian shrine at Kevelaer, which is about 35 miles northwest of Düsseldorf, Germany, dates to 1641. It marks the site of an extraordinary encounter involving a Dutch peddler named Hendrik Busman, who was traveling through the area (then a part of Holland). He had stopped to pray at a roadside shrine when he heard a woman’s voice say to him, “Build me a chapel on this place.” He initially ignored the voice and went on his way, but on three different occasions, the voice returned. Finally, he gave in and started to build a small chapel. On Easter the next year, his wife saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary. As a result of the vision, Busman came to believe that a small portrait of the Virgin known as “Our Lady of Luxembourg,” which had been offered for sale to his wife, was meant to be placed in the chapel. He purchased it and saw it placed inside the chapel when it was finished in June.

The story of the chapel spread, and pilgrims began to arrive soon after its dedication. The first spectacular miracle occurred in September: the healing of a lame boy named Peter van Volbroek. In 1654 the original chapel was taken down and replaced with a larger church, and in 1864 a massive church, the 5,000-seat Basilica of Mary, was dedicated.

In 1888 a mission station was founded in South Africa by Abbot Francis Pfanner and named for the German Marian site. In 1932 Fr. Vitalis Fux, who served the South African mission, was in Germany and learned that a second picture of “Our Lady of Luxembourg” existed and was still in the hands of the family of the man from whom Busman had purchased the miraculous picture that graced the Kevelaer shrine. He contacted the family and eventually negotiated the purchase of the picture for the new church being built at Kevelaer in South Africa. Before returning home, he visited the visionary Therese Neumann in Konnersreuth, Germany, who touched the picture and authenticated it.

Fr. Vitalis was only able to return to South Africa after World War II, in 1947. Once installed, the South African shrine became a pilgrimage site and was given official status by the local bishop in 1953. The German and South African sites have subsequently developed a close working relationship.

Sources:

Grittern, Astrid. Die Marienbasilika zu Kevelaer. Köln: Rheinland-Verlag 1999.
Schwering, Burkhard. Gelobt seist Du, Maria: Volkstümliche Darstellungen des Wallfahrtsbildes von Kevelaer. Freiburg: Herder, 1987.
Wright, Kevin J. Catholic Shrines of Central and Eastern Europe. Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, 1999.
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