“BUILD ME A CHAPEL ON THIS SPOT”
This was the mysterious and unusual assignment given to the pious travelling salesman, Hendrik Busman, around Christmas time in 1641, more than 300 years ago. On his journey from Weeze to Geldern he stopped at a Cross on the heath of Kevelaer and, as was his custom, prayed there for a few minutes. Today the chapel of Grace stands on that spot. Suddenly he heard a mysterious voice that came from the direction of the cross: “Build Me a Chapel on this spot”. At first he took little notice, (Hendrik was probably a sober and sensible Dutchman), but he heard this mysterious voice on three different days. With the permission and help of the then local Parish Priest of Kevelaer, John Schink, he started promptly with the building of the chapel. Shortly after the Easter of 1642, HENDRIKS WIFE, Mechel Schouse, had a vision one night. She saw a pure white light and a chapel with therein a picture of Our Blessed Lady of Luxemburg.
The story of the vision on this night is supported by a night watchman who had, during his nightly rounds, seen a strange light in the home of the Busmans. This on copper printed picture of Our Blessed Lady of Luxemburg had recently been offered for sale to her, by two Hessische soldiers. She did not buy it as she thought it was too expensive. This for Hendrik was the confirmation of his Heavenly assignment. He sent his wife out to obtain this copper printed portrait, which she, with a lot of difficulty, succeeded in doing so. This was portrait of Our Lady of Luxemburg as she had been portrayed and worshiped during the pest epidemic of 1623, as the “Comforter of the Sad and Distressed”. Hendrik was now really inspired to make sure that the chapel would be build.
Sunday 1 June 1642 the chapel was finished. Father Johannes Schink placed the
portrait, also known as the statue of Grace in the chapel. The portrait
is a simple copper impression measuring 7.5 cm x 11cm.
The text on the picture says, “A faithful portrayal of the Mother of Jesus, The
Comforter of the Sad and Distressed renowned for miracles and worshiped by many
In 1654 the simple chapel, built by Hendrik Busman, was replaced by today’s hexagonal shaped chapel, known as the chapel of Grace. On the north side you will find an opening where the statue is visibly from the street during the pilgrimage time. A lamp, located to the left of the altar, contains a dish carried by three doves and contains the light of Peace that was brought to Kevelaer from Lourdes, via Altottin, in 1949. The three doves portray the three places of great grace; Lourdes, Altötting and Kevelaer. A snake stares maliciously at the lamp. This portrayal warns us to continually pray for Peace to Our Lady who crushed the head of the snake. The basilica of Our Blessed Lady was built between 1858 and 1864.
The presbytery, opposite the chapel of Grace, was built by the Oratoren in 1647. In 1889 a start was made with the construction of the Stations of The Cross at the edge of the town. In 1934 a start was made for a large scale renovation. In the newly built Park of Mary, the war memorial of the so called Schutzmantel Madonna was given a fitting place. Today, as in the past, this simple sanctuary of the “Comforter of the Sad and Distressed" in Kevelaer, is the destination for very many pilgrims. They come from far and near; from home and abroad. They seek consolation for their daily sorrows and needs on their long pilgrims’ journey through their earthly life. They will find comfort in Our Mother, who was given to us by The Lord himself.
Official site Kevelaer: http://www.wallfahrt-kevelaer.de/
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