Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pilgrimage--Day Nine

Up early today, June 8, 2012.  We're going to Einsiedeln.  This is a well known pilgrimage shrine, the abbey of Einsiedeln.  It incorporates the relics of St. Meinrad, a black Madonna and a large nativity scene--the Diorama Bethlehem.

We had an early breakfast, and walked down the hill to the bus stop.  We were wondering if it were ever going to come, but then we reasoned, "This is Switzerland.  The bus and train will be on time!"  And it was.  The bus took us to Sarnen, where we got the train.  I think we changed trains again, to get to Lucerne.  One more train to Einsiedeln.

What a pretty town!  Too bad it was raining, but then again, if we weren't touring, we would have been stuck inside the hotel.  Well, maybe not stuck; this is a retreat; we could have always gone to Adoration.

Einsiedein
The shrine looks like an ornate parliament building.  The center edifice is the church of St. Meinrad, the side buildings are some kind of school and a Benedictine Abbey.

We made it for Mass.  The monks sing beautifully.  Even though we don't understand the Swiss German, we understand the Mass.  Jesus is our High Priest, no matter what country we're in and His Presence is there for us in the Mass.

However, unfortunately, no cameras are allowed in the church.  The flash affects the art work.  But pictures would not do justice to this beautiful church, anyway.  And words can't capture the spirit and love that years of prayer have put in this church that's over 1000 years old.  There are many side altars, statues, and pictures.  There's a black Madonna here.  The color is explained by its age, smoke from incense--and probably flash from cameras.  I don't know, however, the color is really shiny.  It looks polished.  The Madonna is ornately dressed and the Baby is too.  It's behind bars, which made me love her all the more.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Everything dear and precious was behind bars.  There probably is no other way to protect these treasures from souvenir hunters.

Outside, the church is a fountain with twelve spouts.  Sister Renata told us that when children make their first communion, they go around drinking from each of the twelve spouts.  It was raining, and I didn't want to take the chance of picking up some bacteria from water not chemically treated, so I only drank from one.
Fountain at Einsiedeln with 12 spouts

Drinking from the Fountain
At lunch we encountered an unpleasant waitress.  Most of the problem was communication.  But also, I think that Europeans don't have the same "customer is always right," ethic, that Americans have.  What happened was, as we were walking to our table, we passed by the wait staff folding these pretty, multi-colored flowered napkins.  We stopped and admired them.  We thought we were going to get to use them at our own table, but we were told that they were for supper, not lunch. We understood.  Janice, however, asked if she could have just one--just one, as a souvenir.  The waitress picked up a bunch of them and threw them on our table.

I don't think she understood what we said.

Janice then insisted that she have tomato soup, after we were told that they had no more.  Actually, it was on the menu, but we were told they had none.  Anyway, Janice got her tomato soup.  It's not that Janice is a bold, self-assertive, demanding woman.  She's just impulsive; and goes with whatever enters her mind.

It was in this restaurant, that a fly landed and drowned in Sheila's water.  Back home, we would have gotten a free meal--at the very least!  Here, we were lucky to get another glass of water.  We probably had to pay for it too.  Anyway, the food was good.  The food everywhere was good.

We made it back to St. Niklausen in time for Compline.  It was crowded tonight.  There's a lot of pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostella.

*******Back home, I did some research on the Einsiedeln's Black Madonna.  I've learned that there are many such images.  Prejudice and suspicion have historically led to their suppression.  In fact, the Orthodox Church doesn't recognize them.  Some legends say they are pagan goddesses.  This may very well be the case in Einsiedeln.  Some stories say Meinrad carried along a black statue that very well could have been a Christianized black goddess.  After Meinrad's death, 861, a small Benedictine cloister was built at the site of his hermitage, with the Black Madonna inside.  Many blessings occurred at the site.  However, in the 15th century, the chapel was destroyed by fire.  A new icon was built and has become the primary object for veneration in the shrine.  This is the Einsiedeln Black Madonna.