The hilltop shrine of Our Lady of Maria Plain, home to a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary, has been a major pilgrimage destination for over three centuries. With a location on a hill overlooking Salzburg, it is also worth visiting for its beautiful views of the city.
History of Shrine of Our Lady of Maria Plain
In 17th-century Germany, during the Thirty Years War, a fire broke out in a family's bakery. Everything was destroyed except for a paintingof the Virgin Mary, which remained completely undamaged.
The painting became the subject of local devotion, and 20 years later, the nobleman Rudolf of Gaming brought the image to Maria Plain, a then-empty site on a hill overlooking Salzburg. The painting was first housed in a small chapel (1652), but a rapid influx of pilgrims soon necessitated the construction of a larger church.
The new Sanctuary of Our Lady of Maria Plain was commissioned by the archbishop in 1671 and completed in 1674. The shrine was given to Benedictine monks, who still run it today.
The miraculous image was crowned on July 14, 1751, and the anniversary of the coronation is celebrated on that day each year. Mozart composed his Coronation Mass (Krönungsmesse) for this even in 1779.
In 1952, the pope raised the shrine to the status of a Minor Basilica, and in 1983, Pope John Paul II prayed before the image of the Virgin at Maria Plain.
What to See at Shrine of Our Lady of Maria Plain
The location of Maria Plain is so spectacular that it attracts the non-devout as well as pilgrims - it provides a view extending 60 miles over the city of Salzburg to the Alps.
The yellow-and-white exterior of the Baroque basilica has two onion-dome-topped towers and is decorated with reliefs of the Four Evangelists and the Madonna and Child.
The miraculous painting of the Virgin Mary is over the high altar (1674) inside the basilica. The image is surrounded by votive pictures from the faithful who have received blessings from devotion to the image. Two side altars contain relics of Saints Dionysios and Christina.
Pilgrims can also visit the small chapel where the painting was originally placed as well as a number of small chapels intended for contemplation on the upper part of the walking path to Maria Plain.
Public transportation from Salzburg goes only to the base of Maria Plain Hill. From there, visitors must take a taxi or make the 20-minute uphill walk.
From the Salzburg train station, take bus #6 to the Plainbrücke bus stop. From there, turn right and cross the small bridge to Plainbergweg Street. Turn right, and follow the signs to Maria Plain.
Quick Facts on Shrine of Our Lady of Maria Plain
|Names:||Shrine of Our Lady of Maria Plain|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||47.838499° N, 13.039318° E|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Shrine of Our Lady of Maria Plain|
- Kevin J. Wright, Catholic Shrines of Central and Eastern Europe (1999), 53-55.
- Basilica Maria Plain: Church of Pilgrimage - Visit Salzburg
Map of Shrine of Our Lady of Maria Plain, Austria
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