In 1654 the Chapel of Grace was built over the shrine to protect the sacred image and give it a worthy home. The small but richly decorated hexagonal building was designed after the model of the pilgrimage chapel in Scherpenheuvel in Belgium. The altar inside was consecrated in 1663. The chapel is a little gem of Dutch renaissance.
The image itself, however, is rather modest and definitely not a great work of art – it’s the story behind it that counts. It is a print, probably from a copper engraving, on paper and no larger than the palm of a hand. It shows Maria and baby Jesus, both wearing crowns. Maria is holding a sceptre and wearing a wide cloak. In the background the city of Luxembourg is depicted, with the pilgrimage chapel on the right – which is probably where the soldiers got the image. The inscription above says, “Consoler of the afflicted, pray for us.”
The cult image in the Chapel of Mercy is still the original one. The small print has received a silver frame and a golden crown and is ornated with precious jewels. It can be seen from outside the chapel through an opening in the wall. From inside the chapel you can walks past the image through a narrow passage behind the altar.
The centre of the town is full of shops selling devotional articles and souvenirs for all wishes and needs, all budgets and all kinds of taste, in some cases lack thereof. Enjoy the shop windows even if you don’t want to buy anything.
St Antonius has been the parish church of the town since the 15th century. It is dedicated to Saint Antonius the Abbot whose statue is standing in front of the church. Due to misfortune the church burnt down to the foundations in 1982. Afterwards it was rebuilt after new plans which adopt the general shape and elements of the old church but give it a modern face. The new church of St Antonius is an interesting example of late 20th century church architecture.
More interior photos in my travelogue page.
The courtyard is surrounded by Basilica, Sacrament Chapel and Confession Chapel. The fountain in the middle with its four water flows is a symbol of God’s ever flowing mercy, just like the four streams of paradise that forever make Earth fertile.
Tauf- und Beichtkapelle – The chapel in Fountain Courtyard served for the sacraments of baptism and confession. Many of the personal miracles of Kevealer happen here, where people are relieved of their burdens after confession their guilt and being granted absolution. Compared to the other churches this one is rather plain, on purpose. This is a place of contemplation and prayer. Please keep quiet.
The baptismal font in the vestibule depicts Jonah and the whale.
In 1987 Pope John Paul II visited Kevelaer to participate in a church congress and to pray at the pilgrimage sites. An ancient liturgy requires him to knock at the door of the church with a hammer to be let in. The bronze side door of the basilica shows this scene.
A special stamp with the image of the Madonna and the buildings of Kevelaer has been issued to honour the occasion. It shows the sacred image of the madonna above the churches and other buildings of Kevelaer.
The two small chapels soon were too small for the numbers of pilgrims that visited Kevelaer. In the mid-19th century the construction of a much larger new church was planned. Vincenz Statz, cathedral architect in Cologne, designed the big church and the complex of small chapels around the fountain courtyard. The foundation stone was laid in 1858. The works were completed, despite the sheer size of the project, within six years and the new church was consecrated in the presence of seven bishops on July 3, 1864 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The tall steeple, however, took 20 years longer to be finished. In 1923 the church was promoted to a “Basilica minor” by Pope Pius XI.
The whole interior and furnishing is purest neo-gothic. I once had the chance (during an art history excursion) to see the interior of the sacristy and be shown the vestments for mass – the church still owns a number of precious embroidered paraments from that same time.
Walls, vaults and pillars, every single piece of the inner surface is covered in polychrome murals. These were begun by the artist Friedrich Stummel, who also designed the stained glass windows, in 1891. Their completion took decades. The last paintings were finished after Stummel’s death by his pupils in 1934.
More photos of the interior and the paintings in my travelogue page.
To take care of the pilgrims, the Bishop of Roermont sent Oratorian Patres from Scherpenheuvel to Kevelaer in 1646. A year later a monastery and parsonage was built for them next to the shrine, now called Priesterhaus. The Priests’ House in Chapel Square is the pilgrimage centre, accommodation for groups and information office.
Pilgrimages to the shrine with the little image of the Madonna set in immediately in 1642. Eight healings were reported already in the first year. In 1643 the construction of the first pilgrimage church the Chapel of the Candles, was begun and completed within two years. In this church the pilgrims celebrate mass and offer big candles. Most pilgrimages take place every year and they have their fixed place for their candle, marked with a sign and crest of the town, parish or diocese.
Individual pilgrims can donate and light smaller candles outside the chapel. Candles can be obtained there for a little donation and put onto one of the large iron candle holders.
Last october they had a special exhibition of Playmobil! A whole collection of normal playmobil through the years, so you were able to see the developement in this beautiful quality toy.
Drawings of the products. Special advertising items etc. A children's playarea.
Playmobil was only a temporary exhibition, but the rest of the museum is also worth visiting.
Especially the marvelous historic Toy collection is beautiful! All kinds of toys from pupprts, through a miniature world, little cars, marionets and son on.
An other part of the nuseun tells you all about the history of this particular area between rivers Rhein and Maas. From cityplans to style rooms, from roman artifacts to old professions everything is available.
Daily between 10.00-17.00 hrs. except mondays.
Adults € 3,00
Children 3-18 yrs € 2,00
A nice thing to do is walking around Kapellenplatz where all pelgrims walk from chapel to chapel lighting candles!
I allways wonder: What are people expecting from these pelgrimages? For themselves? For the world?
Will you become a better person of it?
I must honoustly say I don't know I only visited because of the playmobil exhibition in the local museum.
I liked visiting this place, but I must confess I would'nt come here for a pelgrimage.
In Kevelaer, the faithful of all ages, both men and women, those seeking enlightenment and those in desperation, those acting out of belief and out of trust, all come to her. Shepherds and their flocks gather around her image, which is unusually close to them all, virtually close enough to touch.
This chapel is very small, but still you can make a tour around the altar!
The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is located on the western side of the Fountain Courtyard.
The Chapel was built in 1860 as a confessional chapel for the Dutch pilgrims and its three-transom Paradise portico was added in the early 1880s.
The entrance to the Confessional Chapel can be found in the Fountain Courtyard, on the sacristy side of the Basilica. The Confessional Chapel, built in 1857, houses now the cloister with the penitential cells.
The old chapel built by Hendrik Husman had been replaced in 1684 by a new chapel.
The new chapel, called the Chapel of Grace has a hexagonal dome structure.
The paintings inside the chapel are in neo-renaissance style.