On June 9, 2007, Bishop Victor J. Dammertz OSB dedicated the chapel in honor of Mary, Mother of Europe in Gandenweiler, near the Benedictine monastery of Beuron, Germany. The artist Helmut Lutz was commissioned with the design of the shrine.

The chapel's Baroque statue of Mary from around 1750 hails from Switzerland

The two most protruding elements of the artistic rendering are the chapel's tower symbolizing a receiving hand and the roof which is shaped like a rainbow.

The artist intended to express two main themes. The first is the motif of the church as The Arch of Noah. The chapel's structure resembles a boat with a glass bow and stern. The second theme points to Our Lady as Mother of Europe. She is portrayed holding her child Jesus in one and the scepter in her other hand. Her head is crowned by twelve stars. The boy Jesus, though a child, has an adult aura and holds the globe in his hand. In the background can be seen a huge shell, resembling St. James reminiscent that the path leading to Santiago de Compostela passes through Gnadenweiler.

Chapel dedicated to Mary, Mother of Europe

The interior of the chapel draws attention to the corrugated ceiling with red strands symbolizing God's love, the burning bush and Christ's crown of thorns. The twelve beams supporting the ceiling stand for the twelve tribes of Israel and to the twelve apostles. The number twelve is repeated throughout the chapel: in the floor near the altar twelve ammonites are mounted. They remind us of creatures from the beginning of Godís creation. Twelve chairs in the altar area convey the impression of the atmosphere in the cenacle. Twelve meters separate one end of the roof from the other. The bell tower, symbolizing the receiving hand, is twelve meters tall. Outside the chapel fly twelve flags of those European countries associated with the place and the European flag with its twelve golden stars.

Three times four is twelve. The number three is highlighted in the three steps leading up to the altar; each one of them is dedicated to one of the Divine Persons. The number four is expressed in the four walls of the building (East, West, South, and North, as well as water, fire, air and earth). Three and four is seven, the number which embraces heaven and earth (the seven sacraments, gifts of the Holy Spirit, days of creation) marked by the seven-meter length of each of the walls.

Inserted in the altar is a velvet bag with smaller bags inside, each one holding earth from the twelve countries associated with the place. In time the smaller bags will deteriorate and the earth from the different countries will mingle, a symbol for a united Europe built on Christian soil or principles.

See also Flags of Mary


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