Monday, October 10, 2016

Austria 2016 - Churches in Austria - Maria Locherboden

ISSUE DATE: 23 September 2016
STAMP DESIGN:Kirsten Lubach

A literally “wonderful” place set against the magnificent backdrop of the Mieminger mountain range is Maria Locherboden, a Neo-Gothic pilgrimage church and popular tourist destination in the Tirol near Mötz and Stamm, which is being presented by Austrian Post as part of its “Churches in Austria” series. The pilgrimage site became known even beyond the borders of Austria thanks to two miraculous events. The first is the tale of a miner by the name of Thaman Kluibenschädl, who, so the story goes, was trapped in the gallery of the mine there in 1740, but was successfully rescued. It is said that, to give thanks for the fact that nothing had ever happened to him whilst digging in the mine, he hung a picture of the Virgin Mary over the mine entrance. This picture alone was enough to win Maria Locherboden local fame as a place of pilgrimage. In 1854 a new walkway to the extended mine entrance was built, and in 1860 a larger picture of the Madonna was installed. Initially the intention was to restore the original painting, but then a copy of Lucas Cranach’s painting of Maria Hilf (Mary of Succour) was put up instead, and can still be seen hanging over the high altar in the church today. However, Maria Locherboden became really famous after the terminally ill Maria Kalb from near Innsbruck was healed there. The legend tells that the young woman had already been given the last rites in 1871, when the Virgin Mary appeared to her and told her, “You must seek me in the uplands and recite the rosary of my seven sorrows.” Thereupon her brother took her to Mötz and carried her to the entrance of the grotto, where she prayed and invoked holy Mary, the Mother of God. Suddenly she felt much stronger and healed, and was able to return to Mötz without assistance. Maria Kalb is reported to have lived until 1925. 

The number of pilgrims subsequently grew steadily, and the chapel of grace was built at the mine entrance. At the end of the 19th century work began on building a Neo-Gothic pilgrimage church on the hill above the chapel of grace, in order to cope with the flood of pilgrims. The master builder responsible was Heinrich Hörmann. In 1901 the church was consecrated, and it is claimed that mysterious lights appeared during the ceremony. Since the 1870s there has also been a Way of the Cross along the route from Mötz to Locherboden. With its altarpiece by Tirolean carver Josef Bachlechner, a new organ and a modern chapel, nowadays the church at Maria Locherboden is a popular destination for night-time pilgrimages. The walls and vaulted ceilings are adorned with ornamental and figurative paintings on the themes of Easter, Christmas, Corpus Christi and Whitsun and there are numerous portraits of citizens of Mötz. The stained glass windows are also worthy of note. Today Maria Locherboden is seen as a place of hope and succour, as many pilgrims take very seriously the text on a banner in the church: “This is the place where you should seek me”.


Stamp images and description thanks to Austrian Post - Österreichische Post
La Poste