First Saturday in July

marian calendar     july

Trösterin der Betrübten, Werl, Soest, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

The Church of the Visitation in Werl, one of the main pilgrimage destinations in the Westphalian region of western Germany, is famous for its statue of Mary, Comforter of the Afflicted. Carved of alder wood around 1170, Mary is seated on a throne, with her son, carved of oak, in the middle of her lap. Legend relates that a crusader brought the statue to his daughter, a nun in the Westphalian town of Ahlen. Inspired by a dream, she gave the statue to her brother Berthold, a Premonstratensian monk, who built a chapel for it in Fröndenberg. In the 1300s, the image, considered miraculous, moved to the church of St. Maria zur Wiese (St. Mary on the Wiese River) in another Westphalian town, Soest. During the Reformation, in 1531, it was put in storage. In 1661, Catholic Archbishop Maximilian Henry of Bavaria brought the statue to his estate in Werl nearby, where he gave it to a community of Capuchin Franciscan friars. In 1669, the statue moved to a new church in Werl, dedicated to Mariä Heimsuchung, the Visitation of Mary, replaced in 1779 by a bigger Baroque church. During the next hundred years, the local parish twice assumed maintenance of the shrine when the government dissolved the Franciscan monasteries in Westphalia. Since 1887, Franciscans have managed the church and its annual pilgrimages. The venerable statue was canonically crowned on August 13, 1911, three months after the dedication of an even larger sanctuary adjacent to the Baroque one. In 1953, Pope Pius XII designated this newer church a Basilica Minor.   

On the first Saturday in July (near the old date of the Feast of the Visitation on July 2) the shrine is the object of a 20-mile walking pilgrimage for the celebration of its patronal feast, with mass and a candlelight procession. After another mass and procession on Sunday, the pilgrims return home.

In 2011, the shrine celebrated the 250th anniversary of the statue's arrival in Werl.

Sources include:

The shrine's site, (information and photo)
"St. Maria zur Wiese (Soest)," Wikipedia,
Hans Werner Reissner, "Die Mutter Gottes von Werl/Westfalen," Maria heute,

Also commemorated this day:

Maria, Trösterin der Betrübten, Findelberg, Lower Franconia, Bavaria, Germany (Mary, Comforter of the Afflicted)
Madonna del Pollino, Morano Calabro, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Madonna degli Infermi, Raffadali, Bari, Puglia, Italy (Madonna of the Sick). Fair begins week-long festivities.
Nossa Senhora de Arrábida, Setúbal, Lisboa, Portugal. Mass and procession to convent.
Virgen de Ebro, Quintanilla Escalada, Burgos, Castile and Léon, Spain
Virgen de los Desamparados, Toledo, Castile-La Mancha, Spain (Virgin of the Helpless). Procession from church of Santiago el Mayor.
Mutter vom Trost, Mariastein, Solothurn, Switzerland (Mother of Comfort)

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly