Did you know that April 16 marks the 16th anniversary of the dedication of the Our Lady of Altötting Oratory at the Basilica? This sacred space honors a 14th century Marian devotion from Bavaria and features an exact replica of the original early Gothic statue of Altötting.
The History of the Statue of Altötting
During the instability of World War II, Josef Neustifter of Eggenfelden, Bavaria, carved an exact copy of the original statue. This copy stood in the Holy Chapel in Altötting, Bavaria, until the end of the war. After the war, Josef Neustifter carved an additional four replicas, one of which stands in the Basilica today. At 25 inches tall, it is hand-carved from linden wood and clad in Bavarian baroque-style-garments, handmade by Cistercian nuns. It carries the graces and benefits of the original, and like the original, is located to the right of a statue of Saint Conrad of Parzham, the “Doorkeeper of Altötting.” The display case includes a Bride’s Rosary made of coral and silver filigree.
Pope Benedict XVI and Altötting
The Basilica’s Our Lady of Altötting Oratory was dedicated on April 16, 2005 – a day which happens to be the birthday of Pope Benedict XVI. Born in a village outside Altötting, Bavaria, Pope Benedict XVI was a frequent visitor to the shrine to Our Lady there. When he visited the Basilica as pope in 2008, he paused to pray at the Basilica’s Our Lady of Altötting Oratory.
Later, when visiting Altötting in Bavaria, he reflected on the importance of this Marian devotion:
“[W]e want to let ourselves be guided by Mary, by the Mother of Graces of Altötting, by the Mother of all the faithful, towards the “hour” of Jesus. Let us ask him for the gift of a deeper knowledge and understanding of him. And may our reception of him not be reduced to the moment of communion alone. Jesus remains present in the sacred Host and he awaits us constantly. Here in Altötting, the adoration of the Lord in the Eucharist has found a new location in the old treasury. Mary and Jesus go together. Through Mary we want to continue our converse with the Lord and to learn how to receive him better. Holy Mother of God, pray for us, just as at Cana you prayed for the bride and the bridegroom! Guide us towards Jesus – ever anew! Amen!”
The Basilica Guidebook, Dr. Geraldine Rohling