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Mariazell Basilica

The importance of the Mariazell church of pilgrimage

There are not many places of pilgrimage in the world that can look back on such an impressive history.

According to tradition, Mariazell was founded on 21 December 1157. An inscription over the main entrance with the date 1200 means it can be assumed that the construction of the Romanesque Chapel started at this time. The first documented mention of "cell" can be found in 1243. The Church of Our Lady in Zell is documented as a popular place of pilgrimage in a record of indulgences from the Archbishop of Salzburg, Friedrich III in 1330.  The town received market status as early as 1344.   The successful granting of a full indulgence by Pope Boniface IX in 1399 was hugely important for Mariazell. It was granted for the week after the Assumption of Mary and led to the creation of penance rites and processions, which continued even after the lifting of this indulgence.  There are traces of it until the Baroque period. The stream of pilgrims continued to grow.

 

Mariazell / Wolfgang Feyferlik, 1996–2007


An architect and a man of the church are unconventional though congenial partners for a redevelopment and conversion project that is practically the work of a lifetime. Now into its eleventh year, this highly complex undertaking has to take into account listed building regulations in addition to aspects of design, construction and engineering. The magnificent dome area in the basilica’s east wing has been fitted out with an altar (Ulrich Rückriem) and an organ (designed by Feyferlik) – two clearly recent implants – while the south tower with its steel elements has been turned into an intimate place of prayer. Simple apartments for clerical guests have been incorporated into the beautiful, historical procession of rooms in the presbytery and a little pilgrimage centre has been built next to it above a little open space.