Mariazell, situated in the Austrian federal province of Styria, is the most famous sanctuary of the Virgin Mary in Central Europe and the spiritual and religious centre of the Catholic peoples in the Danube area. The shining of burning candles and never ceasing prayers have been filling Mariazell for more than 800 years since the monk Magnus had brought here a statue of the Virgin carved in linden wood from the Benedictine convent of St. Lambrecht. A small cell over the image was the beginning and gave Mariazell its name. The reputation of miraculous hearings of prayers soon attracted pilgrims from many countries, and about the year 1200 margrave Henry Vladislav of Moravia built the first church for the "Mater Gentium Slavorum" in gratitude for his healing from a serious disease. King Louis the Great of Hungary founded around the year 1370, after his glorious victory over the religious enemies from the east, a pilgrims' chapel that is still preserved today. Thus, Mariazell and the "Magna Hungarorum Domina" became the major place of pilgrimage for the Hungarians too.
Unlike any other place of pilgrimage Mariazell has been bound to this date with the Catholic peoples of Central and Eastern Europe, and the history of pilgrimage to Mariazell is part of the history of the Christian Occident. Emperors, kings and princes from all European nations have visited Mariazell during the centuries and found inner peace and consolation before the imperial sanctuary.
The chruch, standing in the midst of a beatiful mountainous landscape, is in its actual form the work of the famous Italien architect Domenico Sciassia of the 17th century. The high altar, a present of gratitude by Emperor Charles VI, was erected according to plans by Johann B. Fischer von Erlach; the altar of grace, for which the great Empress Maria Theresa endowed the splendid silver trellis, was designed by his son Emanuel. Beyond that, the greatest artists of the period created the magnificent interior decoration and made the durch, raised to the rank of basilica in 1907, one of the most beautiful baroque buildings of the Christian art.
Innumerable votive pictures in the galleries of the church and two treasure vaults with valuable and simple oblations from seven centuries impressively show how great a confidence was placed by millions of pilgrims in the miraculous place of Mariazell.
Even though the roots of Mariazell's attraction go back to the past of a formerly larger empire the "Magna Mater Austriae", Austria's great mother of God, has today become more than ever before a symbol of living Christian belief. The door of the basilica, the world-renowned "Door of Peace", is open to the faithful from all over the world.
During the period of pilgrimage (Easter to All Saints' Day) there are daily services at every full hour from 6.00 to 12.00 a.m., and at 6.30 p.m. There is a light procession every Saturday. Confession opportunity throughout the day in all European languages. The Superir's Office A-8630 Mariazell, accepts bookings for pilgrimages at any time and will be glad to give any additional information required.