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St. Mary’s Church of Pilgrimage

Hauptstraße 47, Saarburg

 

According to legend, the miraculous image of Beurig, a so-called Madonna lactans – a lactating Madonna – was discovered by a miller’s apprentice. He discovered the figure in the branches of an oak tree, which was being propelled downstream during a flood of the Saar.  This is supposed to have happened in the year 1304, which is also regarded as the first year of the pilgrimage. The pilgrims came immediately after they heard the news of the discovery of the miraculous image. The first chapel was a small building of clay and wood, but, excited by numerous reports of miracles, people came on pilgrimage to Beurig from as far away as Lorraine and Luxembourg. In 1330 a Marian society was set up, which continued in existence until 1803. In 1479 the wooden chapel was replaced by a small stone church, but as this too soon proved too small, an impressive pilgrimage church was built between 1512-16.

At the start of the 17th century, pilgrimages to Beurig increased, the parish priest was overwhelmed by looking after all the pilgrims. To provide him with support, in 1609 the Franciscans of the Cologne Order took over pastoral care of the pilgrimage and between 1615-28 they built an abbey (today it serves as the parish centre and presbytery). The Franciscans remained in Beurig until 1803, the abbey was then abolished during secularisation. After the departure of the fathers, the pilgrimage was deserted, the abbey assets were auctioned off by the French, and the church was gifted by Napoleon to the community. Around the middle of the 19th century the pilgrimage slowly came to life again, but has only recently gained a new lease of life, particularly after the Second World War.