April 6, 2004 marks the 400 anniversary when the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed her preferred title of 'Mater ter Admirabilis' (Mother Thrice Admirable) to Jakob Rem SJ at the Colloquium Marianum in Ingolstadt. What were the circumstances that led to this memorable event?

The life of Father Rem can be painted in a few strokes. He was born in Bregenz, Austria in June of 1546, the year of Martin Luther’s death. When Jakob was ten, his family moved to Dillingen, in Bavaria/Germany where he joined the Jesuit order in 1566.

His novitiate took place in Rome. During that time he was exposed to three saints-to-be who decisively influenced his life: Peter Canisius, Frances Borgias, his general superior, and Stanislas Kostka, his fellow novice, who would later become the patron of Jesuit youth. Moreover, Jakob Rem while in Rome was acquainted with the Marian Congregation (MC) which had been founded by the Flemish Jesuit, Johann Leunis, in 1562.

In 1568 after the completion of his novitiate, Jakob Rem was transferred to Dillingen and in 1573 was ordained a priest in Augsburg. As educator of Jesuit youth for forty years he instilled in his students a deep love for the rosary which was undoubtedly increased through the influence of the famous battle of Lepanto in 1571. Finally, on November 13, 1574 Father Rem founded the first German MC in Dillingen. It was dedicated to Mary Assumed into Heaven.

At that time, Maximilian II, emperor of Germany and Austria, sympathized with Protestantism. Consequently, during his reign a significant apostasy from the catholic faith occurred, except in Bavaria. Its duke, Albrecht of Bavaria, wrote to a close friend, Cardinal Morone,: “It is clear; the tricks of the opponents have no other intention than to destroy everything which is left of the catholic faith in Germany.”[1]

The Council of Trent had given unambiguous directions for the Catholic Reformation. Yet, the forces to sustain such a counter-development were wanting. A new generation of consecrated lay men and women was desperately needed in order to bring about a revival of faith and morals. Father Rem met support for his MC from a number of saintly people including future bishops and the intellectual world.[2] The Marian spring time of the MC instilled in them new hope and to its members it furnished the vigor to perform heroic deeds.

Nearly 20 years later, Father Rem was transferred to Ingolstadt where on May 4, 1595 he founded the famous Colloquium Marianum (CM). It was to be a Marian elite movement of the MC to which belonged the majority of all future spiritual and intellectual leaders of the Counter Reformation. It is a remarkable concurrence that Ingolstadt became a religious, Marian center of high standards and simultaneously played a leading political and cultural role within European history, above all in Bavaria. Father Jakob Rem deserves credit for that. Considering the personalities that were educated and grew out of the atmosphere of his CM it is not exaggerated to assert “that the influence of the Marian Colloquium spread throughout Europe.”

The spiritual center of the Marian Colloquium of Ingolstadt was a copy of the icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani--the Protectress of the People of Rome--from the famous church Mary Major--Mary of the Snows in Rome [see image at left]. In his profound attachment to Our Lady, Father Rem desired to know which of the invocations from the litany of Loreto would please her most. While praying he received the insight that the title ‘Mother admirable’ presents a summary of everything that can be said about the Mother of God. On April 6 1604, Mary confirmed this title.

The chronicler tells us about the event:  “Father Rem knelt immersed in prayer in a corner of the chapel while the Litany of Loreto was sung. Suddenly he was elevated and saw his heavenly Mother and protectress in a supernatural vision.

When the title “Mater admirabilis” was sung the apparition disappeared. Quickly, Father Rem approached the cantor who was reasonably close to him, and asked to repeat the invocation a second and third time. It is obvious that those present would inquire afterwards about the cause for the reiteration. Finally, urged by his superiors, Father Rem spoke about the special insight and apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The event of April 6, 1604 spread throughout the Jesuit convent and via the University of Ingolstadt to other ecclesial circles in Germany. Subsequently, the image of Our Lady in the chapel of the Colloquium was called Mother thrice admirable [see image to the right]. From then on, the invocation was sung three times in Ingolstadt and at other places in Germany.”

The theological roots of the trishagion can perhaps be best appreciated when we consider that St. John Damascene (+ around 749) called Mary “the miracle of miracles; she is so in every respect because she is Virgin and Mother, more precisely the Mother of God”. In this short text, the word miracle in which admirable is etymologically contained receives its theological focus: Mary is truly the greatest miracle of God’s creation. The image of the MTA of Ingolstadt has been copied numerous times. Many missionaries took it along on their journeys and reported miraculous happenings through the intercession of the Mother thrice admirable.

One of the many copies was enthroned in a side chapel of the Ingolstadt cathedral where it can still be seen, together with the relics of Father Rem.

In 1683 the diocese of Constance to which Ingolstadt belonged at that time was dedicated to the MTA. Even today, the diocese of Eichstätt [9] venerates Our Lady as Mother thrice admirable. On October 11, 1942 [10] Bishop Michael Rackl consecrated the diocese to Mary as the Mother thrice admirable. Furthermore, we know of the following churches dedicated to the ‘Mater ter admirabilis’: in Bertinoro, province of Emilia, Italy in 1666; a cloistered community in Genoa in 1821 and the Roman church Trinità dei Monti in 1914. [11]

The Colloquium Marianum was very fruitful in Germany and beyond; though its membership exceeded seldom 40 students at a time. However, the excellent education enabled its graduates to contribute much to securing the catholic faith. The CM of Ingolstadt discontinued in 1779. Time and mentality had changed during the age of enlightenment.  

In 1896, Father Franz Hattler SJ published “The Venerable Father Jakob Rem of the Society of Jesus and his Colloquium Marianum.”[12] This seemingly stirred the longing among the students of the Jesuit High School Stella Matutina in Feldkirch, Austria to reinstate the Colloquium Marianum. It met with little interest, however. In 1952, in order to reinitiate the canonization process for Father Rem, Anton Höβ SJ presented “Father Jakob Rem SJ advocate of the Admirable Mother[13].  On page 108 we read:

The initiative of the Colloquium Marianum was adopted in 1915 by the Marian Congregation in Schoenstatt/Rhine. Just as the initiative of moral religious renewal was started during dangerous times in Ingolstadt, so now the parallel Ingolstadt--Schoenstatt should be implemented from the shrine of the 'Mater ter admirabilis' in virtue of the enthusiasm which can only be found in youth.

In 1915, Father Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968), founder of the international Schoenstatt   Movement, came across the book of Father Hattler[14] and realized that its content captured fully what his blossoming movement aimed at: a strong Marian fervor that resonated in self-education and apostolate. Schoenstatt likewise wanted tobe a motor of Catholic renewal for our time. Thus the movement adopted Mater admirabilis as title for Schoenstatt’s  image of Mary--see image to the right-- adding of Schoenstatt in distinction to the Mother thrice admirable of Ingolstadt.

Just as 400 years ago, April 6, 2004 will be Tuesday of Holy Week. The diocese of Eichstätt Germany together with the Schoenstatt Movement of that diocese plan to commemorate this event with gratitude and renewed commitment to what it entails.

In short:

Father Jakob Rem and the title mother thrice admirable (MTA)


g      1546: Father Jakob Rem was born in Bregenz (Austria)

g      1566-1568: Novitiate with the Jesuits in Rome during which he was acquainted with the Marian Congregation

g      1573 Father Rem founded the first German Marian Congregation in Dillingen seminary (Germany)

g      September 1586: Transfer to Ingolstadt (Germany)

g    Founding of the Colloquium Marianum, elite from the elite gathered around the Ingolstadt copy of the picture of grace of Mary Major, Rome.

g      April 6, 1604 (Tuesday of Holy Week)--The Blessed Mother revealed to Father Rem her favorite title from the litany of Loreto: "Mother most admirable"--Father Rem asked for the title to be sung three times. Thus the title for the picture of grace in Ingolstadt came about: "Mother thrice admirable" ("Mater ter admirabilis = MTA")

g      1915: Father Kentenich, founder of the international Schoenstatt movement adopts this title for the Schoenstatt picture of grace which since has spread throughout the world.

g      April 6, 2004: Celebration of the 400th anniversary of this event

                                                                                                                                            by Sr. M. Danielle Peters

[1] Graber, Rudolf. Gestalten der kirchlichen Reform: P. Jakob Rem S.J.--Anna Katharina Emmerich. Predigt in der Cistercienserinnen--Abtei Mariastern am 13. September 1974. Josef Kral Verlag Abensberg , no year, 6.

[2] It can be proven that the MC helped preserve the Catholic Church in southern Germany. See: Graber, Rudolf. ibid. 7.

[3]β, A. Pater Jakob Rem SJ, Künder der Wunderbaren Mutter. Munich 1852, 103.

[4] Graber, Rudolf. ibid. 7.

[5] Bourassé, J.J. Summa laudibus Beatissimae Virginis Mariae. tom XIII, Paris 1866, 262.

[6] Anselm. Oratorio 52. PL 158, 955.

[7] See: Höβ, 112.

[8] Father Rem died at the age of 72 on October 12, 1618 in Ingolstadt at the beginning of the 30-year-war whose outbreak he had predicted several years earlier. His canonization process has been introduced.

[9] To which Ingolstadt belongs today.

[10] At that time, the Solemnity of the Motherhood of Mary.

[11] See: Holweck, Friedrich Georg. Calendarium Liturgicum Festorum Dei et Dei Matris Maria. Philadelphia, USA, 1925. Also: Beiβel Stephan. Wallfahrten zu Unserer Lieben Frau in Legende und Geschichte. Freiburg 1913, 94.

[12] German title: Der ehrwürdige P. Jakob Rem aus der Gesellschaft Jesu und seine Marienconferenz. Nach den Quellen bearbeitet und allen Verehrern der Gottesmutter zum Vorbild dargestellt. Freiburg im Breisgau, 1880.

[13] German title: P. Jakob Rem S.J. Künder der Wunderbaren Mutter. See footnote 3.

[14] See footnote 11.

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