Notre-Dame de Fatima, Wiltz, Wiltz, Luxembourg
In January of 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge,
German forces controlled the city of Wiltz. Residents hid in their
basements. Late in the afternoon of January 13 the military police ordered
the populace to leave the city toward the east for reasons of security.
Thirteen parishioners took shelter in the cellar of the Catholic pastor,
Dean Prosper Colling, who decided the situation called for heavenly help.
At his suggestion, the people in his cellar undertook a novena of prayer
to the patron saints of Wiltz, Roch and Sebastian. As night fell, the
evacuation was postponed until further notice. On an overturned sauerkraut
barrel Msgr. Colling wrote out a vow, which was signed by the ten men and
women present, "to erect on Bässent Hill a public way of the cross
with images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Fatima" if
they escaped the war alive.
As fighting raged all around, during lulls Dean Colling made pastoral
visits to area cellars, consoling his flock, telling them about the vow,
and urging participation in the prayer campaign. As word spread, hope grew
that by St. Sebastian's feast day, January 20, the change would
come. Indeed, by then things had calmed down enough that Prosper
Colling was able to say the festal mass in the badly damaged main church
for a congregation of 200. And there, they received their miracle: through
the blown-out windows they heard the noise of German boots on the pavement
outside, heading east toward the German border. The next day, American
forces entered the city. Wiltz was free.
Several years later, the people fulfilled their vow. On Sunday,
September 13, 1947, the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima
statue from Portugal visited Wiltz on its world tour. In a massive
procession, the image ascended Bässent Hill atop a hexagonal block which
that day became the first stone of the shrine overlooking the city. Dean
Colling said mass in the open air.
But work on the monument did not begin in earnest until 1951. On July 13,
1952, Bishop-Coadjutor Léon Lommel dedicated the outdoor shrine, which features
slate tablets with the names of the war dead and sandstone reliefs by Luxembourg
sculptor Aurelio Sabbatini of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of
Fatima. The Virgin's image resembles the Miraculous
Medal rather than the statue from Portugal.
Since 1968, Portuguese immigrants from all over Luxembourg have made a
pilgrimage to the Bässent shrine on the Feast of the Ascension, 40 days after
Easter. They begin arriving the day before, some walking 30 miles. Early on
Ascension Thursday, cars arrive from all directions. A statue of the Virgin of
Fatima, donated in 1972 to the deanery church, reigns there over a field of
flowers and a dense crowd singing and praying the rosary. At three in the
afternoon the procession starts in front of the church. The statue is carried by
the faithful and escorted by young Scouts up Bässent Hill, where several
priests concelebrate the mass, often including one come for the occasion from
Portugal. A choir sings, and as the statue departs, the believers create a sea
of white handkerchiefs waving farewell, as they do at the sanctuary in Fatima.
(Main source: Joss Scheer, "Monument de Notre-Dame de Fatima « op
Bässend » à Wiltz," Église catholique au Luxembourg, www.cathol.lu,
2007. Picture from "Das Fatima Denkmal," Syndicat d'Initiative de
Also commemorated this date:
|Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Troosteres der Bedrukten, Lebbeke, East Flanders, Belgium
(Comforter of the Afflicted). Procession.|
|Notre-Dame de Creuse, Le Rœulx, Hainaut, Wallonia, Belgium, Ville-sur-Haine
village. Pilgrimage to shrine with healing spring.|
|Notre-Dame des Bois, Bousignies-sur-Roc, Nord, France. Pilgrimage to
|Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Port, Brest, Finistère, Brittany, France. Pardons at
Ascension & Assumption.|
|Notre-Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, Haute-Saône, Franche-Comté, France.
Diocesan youth pilgrimage. Main feast Sept. 8.|
|Notre Dame d'Entremont, Brioude, Haute-Loire, Auvergne, France|
|Notre-Dame-des-Fers, Orcival, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France (Our Lady of
the Fetters). Pilgrimage dates to the 600s.|
|Notre Dame de Piétat, Pau, Pyrenées-Atlantique, Gascony, France.
Pilgrimage; also Aug. 15 & Sept. 8.|
|Mère de Dieu, Faussergues, Tarn, Midi-Pyrénées, France. Pilgrimage to
chapel and holy spring.|
|Notre-Dame de Santa-Cruz, Nîmes, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France.
Ex-colonials gather around this statue brought from Algeria.|
|Notre Dame de Fougères, Forcalquier, Alpes de Haute-Provence, France (Our
Lady of Ferns)|
|Santa Maria di Monserrato, Iglesias, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy. Festa.|
|Nostra Signora dell'Agostina, Ricco' del Golfo, La Spezia, Liguria, Italy|
|Maria Madre e Regina, Trieste, Italy. Sanctuary's feast day; procession
with statue of Our Lady of Fatima.|
|Madonna della Salute, Solarolo, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy|
|Madonna delle Grazie, Sonnino, Latium, Italy. Torchlight procession the
|Maria Santissima di Tagliavia, Vita, Trapani, Sicily, Italy|
|Madonna di Tagliavia, Corleone, Palermo, Sicily, Italy|
|Maria SS. del Belvedere, Dragonetti, Filiano, Potenza, Basilicata, Italy|
|Onze Lieve Vrouw van Eikenduinen, The Hague, South Holland, Netherlands.
Pilgrimage to chapel ruins in cemetery.|
|Nossa Senhora da Hora, Matosinhos, Porto, Portugal|
|Nossa Senhora da Ascensão, Ponta do Sol, Madeira, Algarve, Portugal|
|Virgen de Los Ángeles, Getafe, Madrid, Spain. Romería; statue carried to