11 December 2022
A Maria chapel, “im Stein” (in stone), was first documented in 1434. There was already another chapel, however, a rock chapel. The Chapel of Grace (Gnadenkapelle) is still visited by around 250 000 pilgrims annually.
It is the heart and the destination of the pilgrimage of Mariastein. In the course of the centuries, the rocky cave was converted into a chapel, which is reached by a staircase with 159 steps, which has been carved into the rock.
The Chapel of Grace
Since 1442 it is also known why there is a chapel of the Virgin Mary: a boy has fallen into the valley at this point and has miraculously been unharmed by the intercession of the Mother of God. From this event, a richly embellished legend developed. Soon the place of pilgrimage attracted believers from near and far. The priest of Metzerlen had to be supported by a pilgrim’s priest. Around 250 000 pilgrims visit the chapelle today.
The Chapel of Sorrows is a pilgrimage chapel built at the end of the 15th century on the edge of the rock above the ground. Today, the chapel is integrated into the monastery’s complex.
The Reichenstein family adorned the chapel with its coat of arms. On the opposite wall is the large votive image of the municipalities of the area called “Leimental”, which reminds us that these communities put themselves under the protection of Mary in the rock “Im Stein”). The swords are emblematic representations which point to the seven sorrows of Mary.
The miraculous image
On the wall of the windows hangs the so-called miraculous image (Das Mirakelbild), which reminds us of the salvage of the Junker Hans Thüring Reich of Reichenstein, In a scenic process (fall, discovery, rescue, cure in the Mill of Flüh (Flühmühle) and return to the Landskron castle, the whole story is shown.
The miraculous image (1543) in the Chapel of Sorrows
The mill, Flühmühle, 1543
The Flühmühle in 2022. Photo: Marijke Brink
In the middle of the 17th century, the Benedictine monks from Beinwil (canton Solothurn) moved their monastery to Mariastein.
The monastery and church of Mariastein in Metzerlen (Solothurn Canton) were built between 1636 and 1655. The church of the new Benedictine monastery was consecrated on 31 October 1655.
At first, the late Gothic style found its way. However, between 1830 and 1834, the façade and the church tower were erected in the classicist style. The church was decorated and painted neo-baroque between 1900 and 1934. The design of the cloister square in 1997 was by Ludwig Stocker (1932).
On 5 July 1926, Pope Pius XI (1857-1939) raised the monastery church to the status of Basilica Minor.
The monastery around 1680. Information Centre Mariastein
The monastery complex
The monastery has an eventful history. In March 1798, the French general Balthasar von Schauenberg (1748-1831) entered Mariastein, destroyed the monastery and sold its possessions. The ruined abbey was repurchased in 1802 by Abbot Hieronymus Brunner (1739-1804).
However, the Solothurn canton and the federal government wanted to keep and bring economic life under strict control and a special tax impoverished the monastery. Two monks stayed, and religious life and pilgrimage continued in the Catholic canton.
The rest of the monastery moved to Delle (France) but had to leave France in 1901. The monks moved the monastery to Bregenz (Austria). In 1941, the Gestapo forced the Benedictines to leave their monastery.
Information Centre Mariastein
The Canton of Solothurn permitted the monks to return to the monastery. On 21 June 1971, the canton finally handed over a document that sealed the complete return of the abbey to the Benedictine Order.
The St. Anna-Chapelle
The Klosterhotel Kreuz