History of the place of pilgrimage

Autor: Peter Anhalt

ca. 1200 The Cistercian convent is founded in Beuren and later has estates in Etzelsbach.
ca. 1400 The village of Etzelsbach is most likely abandoned in this period, although the former village church remains in place. Only medieval fragments finds bear witness to the former settlement.
1525 During the Peasants’ War, the Etzelsbach “Church of Our Lady” is mentioned for the first time, a brother lives there probably taking care of the pilgrims. The church and the house burn down.
1537 … and they still haven’t been rebuilt.
ca. 1550 The Steinbach parish is founded. The place of pilgrimage is later maintained from Steinbach.
1555 Eichsfeld is ravaged by the pest. When the last abbess of the Cistercian convent of Beuren dies, monastic life comes to a standstill. Etzelsbach becomes deserted.
1602 A no longer existing, portable altar was marked with this year. It could bear witness to the fact that a small chapel was erected on the site of the church destroyed in the Peasants’ War.
1600–1618 The Etzelsbach estates are sold and used by the farmers in the vicinity.
1617/18 Resettlement of the Beuren convent by Cistercians from the Teistungenburg convent.
1623 A horse plague breaks in Heiligenstadt. The Jesuits, however, do not send a horse owner to seek advice in Etzelsbach. Some time later Dean Johannes Simerodt (+1651), the responsible parish priest of Wingerode, recalls a former pilgrimage to Etzelbach because of “people and livestock dying”. He recommends the Wingerode farmers to take their horses on a pilgrimage to this place. It must have been during this time that the icon of grace, a Suffering Virgin, was newly erected.
1639 The Reifenstein abbot Philipp Busse, mentioned as a prominent Etzelsbach pilgrim, dies.
1657 The earliest surviving church invoices of Steinbach record the earnings of three pilgrimage days (eggs and money).
1709 More than 100 horses participate in the pilgrimages.
1793 Church records mention: “Paid two whalers for three pilgrimage sermons to the Stadtworbis convent.” Franciscans from Worbis preached in Etzelbach throughout the 18th century.
1802 A new half-timbered chapel is built. The previous building is old and dilapidated. Its appearance has been passed on. The visitor to the Etzelsbach chapel will discover it in a painting on the western wall.
1850 Cholera epidemic in Eichsfeld. Parish priest Johann Bartholomäus Döring reports: “Day and night, the chapel was occupied by devout pilgrims from far and near in order to beseech the dear Mother of God for her intercession since – according to the general vivid tradition – she had been very helpful in earlier cases of severe diseases.”
1897/98 The modern pilgrimage chapel is built. It is a neogothic, three-aisled building with a characteristic, extremely pointed ridge turret.
1978 For the first time during the horse pilgrimage, the horses are blessed by a priest after the pilgrimage High Mass. Prior to this date, leading the horses three times around the chapel was regarded an act of piety.
1979 Parish priest Gerhard Miksch introduces the blessing of vehicles.
2005 375 horses are blessed during the horse pilgrimage and some 250 vehicles during the vehicle blessing.
2011 Since June 2011, Holy Mary Vespers is held annually every Sunday (from June to 23rd of September) in the chapel at 5 pm.
23. 9. 2011 Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Holy Mary Vespers together with about 90,000 believers on the meadow north west of the chapel. He presents a rosary to the Holy Mary place of pilgrimage.
  Daten Peter Anhalt