of Kevelaer, Germany was destroyed by fire in the 1500's, many people
lost interest in the place where it had once stood. But one day a wonderful
event took place that would make the village a popular point of interest
for thousands of people.
During the Christmas Season in 1641, a travelling salesman by the name of Hendrick Busman, who lived in the nearby town of Geldern, was walking near the deserted village. He stopped to pray at a wayside cross near the site of the old village and suddenly he heard a voice, "At this place, thou shalt build me a chapel!"
was amazed to hear the voice and looked around, but he saw no one. He
continued on his way and put all thoughts about the voice out of his mind.
A few days later, he travelled the same road and when he reached the wayside
cross, he heard the voice again; very loud and very clear, "At
this place, thou shalt build me a chapel!" And then a third
time he heard the voice!
Hendrick knew he hadn't imagined the voice and it caused him much sorrow, because he was a poor man and could not afford to build a chapel. But even though he was poor, in order to build the shrine, he decided to put aside a little money each day from the small amount which he made from selling his wares.
A few months later, his wife Mechel had a vision during the night. She saw a beautiful shrine in brilliant light with a picture of Our Lady. She had seen the picture some time ago when two soldiers had come to her with two pictures of Our Lady of Luxembourg. The soldiers tried to sell them to her, but when they told her the price they wanted for the pictures, she decided not to buy them.
Mechel told her husband Hendrick about the vision of the shrine and the pictures. He then told his wife to find out where the soldiers and the pictures were. Mechel found out that these two soldiers had given the pictures to a lieutenant of the army, who was at that time in prison, in Kempen. She then went to the prison and bought one of the (3 X 5) pictures of Our Lady of Luxembourg.
After his wife obtained the pictures, Hendrick began at once to make arrangements for the building of the Shrine of Our Lady. He wanted to make the shrine exactly like the way his wife had seen it in the vision.
In the meantime, the voices and the vision became widely known. The Carmelite Nuns at Geldern heard the reports and asked that the picture be given to them for awhile. After the Carmelites had prayed before the picture, they sent it back to the Busman's cottage.
Crowds of people then came to the cottage to venerate the picture of Our Lady of Luxembourg, but Hendrick and his wife were in no way prepared for all these visitors. They finally asked the Capuchin Priests to place the image in their chapel for the time being, until the shrine was built. But here too, the crowds of people became so great, that the monks had to ask that the holy image of Our Lady be taken as soon as possible to the shrine that was being prepared for it.
The shrine that Hendrick built was a tall, thick wall of bricks, with a roof and a deep niche in the wall. The picture was glued on a board that was cut in the shape of the niche, so that it could be fitted in. On June 1, 1642, the little picture of Our Lady of Luxembourg was brought to Fr. Schink, the parish priest of Kevelaer, and he placed the holy image in the newly built shrine. The priest found that he was unable to minister to the huge crowds of pilgrims who came to visit the shrine. He begged the Bishop for help and the good Bishop sent three Oratorian Priests to help at the shrine.
The Blessed Virgin quickly rewarded the love and faith of the people who came to the shrine. Many people suddenly got cured; the blind could see…the deaf could hear…the dumb could speak…and the lame could walk! And many other people who were sick or injured were also cured. In fact, so many miracles happened during the first five years that the Vicar General ordered an investigation. He wanted to be sure that true miracles were really taking place at the Shrine of Our Lady. After the investigation, many cures were declared to be miraculous, and this brought even greater crowds to the little shrine!
Hendrick and his wife carried on with their daily life, and before his death in 1649, Hendrick was grateful to see the huge crowds that came to see the little shrine of Our lady.
The original brick shrine was left untouched and exposed to wind and rain for a few years. In 1654, a little chapel was built over the shrine, and an altar was placed in front of it. There is also a large public square that has been made on the same spot so that pilgrims can have room to walk and enjoy the shrine. Built into one side of the chapel is a large window. Here pilgrims may see the holy image day and night when they come to visit the shrine. The Basilica of St. Mary was also built in the square to receive the thousands of pilgrims who come to visit the shrine every year from May to November.
Today the picture is faded but it had been decorated with; golden angels, golden roses, golden medals, chains and jewelled ornaments, which have been donated by grateful pilgrims. King Frederick William I, King Frederick William IV and Pope John Paul II, as well as other heads of Church and State, have also come to visit and pray to Our Lady at this holy shrine. In 1892, Our Lady of Kevelaer was honoured with a papal coronation. A crown studded with diamonds and jewels, was placed above the miraculous picture of Our Lady, to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Shrine. It is one of the most popular Marian Shrines in Europe, and more than half a million pilgrims come to visit here every year!
Our Lady of Kevelaer, Pray for Us!
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