For 375 years, Christians looking for hope have sought out an image of the Mother of God: the Madonna in the small Baroque chapel on Kapellenplatz (Chapel Square) at the heart of Kevelaer. This has transformed the tiny town in the Lower Rhine region into one of the most important Marian shrines in Germany, and made it a meeting place for prayer and silent conversation with God.
Mary, "Comforter of the Afflicted", is a symbol of hope that attracts just under one million pilgrims to Kevelaer every year. 2017 marks an anniversary for the Marian pilgrimage site, as tradition has it that a merchant praying in front of a cross in a field had an epiphany here 375 years ago. A voice told him: "Here thou shalt build me a chapel." When his wife dreamt of a little chapel with the same Madonna that someone had previously wanted her to purchase, the devout man erected a wayside cross where a small Baroque chapel would one day be built. Miracle healings in the 17th and 19th centuries transformed Kevelaer into a pilgrimage site. The large pilgrimage church, Stations of the Cross and numerous chapels, including the Chapel of Grace, are the major points of interest for Christians visiting Kevelaer.
Pilgrimages are a transformative journey. They give hope that a person can be healed or that they can change their inner self following a spiritual encounter in a holy place. They also see prayers answered. For example, in the 1970s a Greek Orthodox man donated a gold medallion in profound gratitude and instigated the construction of the Orthodox Chapel of St. John in Kevelaer because "there is only one Mary, Mother of God".
Arrival options: change at Düsseldorf Central Station for regional trains to Kevelaer
Pilgrim hostels?: Yes
Pilgrimage dates: all year round
For information on doing the pilgrimage on a motorcycle (in German), visit:www.motorrad-wallfahrt.de
For the flyer on the 2017 anniversary year (download), special pilgrimage days, pilgrimage dates and services, visit: