Pilgrimage to Mariastein

The pilgrimage to «St. Mary in the rock» originated at the beginning of the 14th century, when, as legend has it, a young boy was miraculously saved by the Virgin Mary following a fall from a cave in the cliffs. Today, this cave is the location of the Chapel of Grace of the Virgin Mary. Pilgrims travel to the site from throughout Switzerland and neighbouring countries, and include members of a range of ethnic groups living in Switzerland (Albanians, Italians, Filipinos, Portuguese, Slovakians, Spanish and Tamils). Even some Hindu Tamils make the pilgrimage to Mariastein. The considerable appeal of this place of pilgrimage, which transcends ethnic and religious boundaries and thus facilitates integration, evolved without any specific promotional campaigns on the part of the institutions.

Aside from a hiatus during the period of the revolution, the Benedictine monks from the Beinwil monastery in the canton of Solothurn have been providing pastoral care for pilgrims since 1636. In 1648, the monks relocated their monastery to Mariastein, where it was finally closed in 1874 during the Kulturkampf (a period of conflict between the state and the Catholic Church). People continued to make the pilgrimage, however, and were still looked after by the Benedictines. The abbey and its community went into exile in France and later Austria, from where they were expelled in 1941. They were granted asylum in the old monastery, which was officially re-established by the government in 1970/71.



Detailed description

Connected traditions


Benediktiner Kloster Mariastein (Ed.): Mariastein. Gnadenort und Benediktinerkloster. Bern, 2010

Hieronymus Haas: Wallfahrtsgeschichte von Mariastein. Solothurn, 1973

Interview mit Pater Lukas Schenker vom 7. September 2011, im Benediktinerkloster Mariastein. Aargauer Kuratorium.

Sibylle Hardegger: Die Wallfahrt von Mariastein als Ausdruck einer volksnahen Frömmigkeit. Diplomarbeit der Theologischen Fakultät Luzern. Binningen, 1993

Thomas Kamber: Heilungen im Wallfahrtsort Mariastein. Inauguraldissertation der Medizinischen Fakultät der Universität Basel. Basel, 1983

Lukas Schenker: Mariastein. Führer durch Wallfahrt und Kloster. Einsiedeln, 2010

Edith Schweizer-Völker, Martin Schulte-Kellinghaus: Mythische Orte am Oberrhein. Ausflüge in die Dreiländerregion Elsass-Südbaden-Nordwestschweiz. Basel, 2005

Verein Frauenstadtrundgang Basel (Ed.): still & stark. Die heiligen Frauen von Mariastein. Eine etwas andere Wallfahrt zu Maria in der Felsengrotte. Zürich, 2003



Benediktinerkloster Mariastein

Print contact