We decided to escape the city yesterday. We’ve been here five months and had not yet sampled the Austrian mountain air. It was a beautiful day, neither winter (we haven’t had one) nor yet spring. We drove southwest from Vienna into Styria and ended up at Austria’s Lourdes, the pilgrimage town of Mariazell.
Mariazell’s church houses the Magna Mater Austriae, a wooden, miracle-working image of the Heavenly Mother that makes Mariazell Austria’s most important pilgrimage site. The image, now surrounded in gilded finery, has offered Austria’s Catholics Marian grace since 1157.
I stood before Mary and watched as a few pilgrims bowed their heads in prayer before her. Some made use of the holy water. I thought of my daughter, named after the mother of Jesus. I remembered Nephi’s vision of the transcendent love of God embodied in the virgin from Nazareth. I reflected on the power of healing supposed to imbue this shrine and thought about my son’s haemangioma, my mother’s platelets, and my own chronically sore feet and hip.
‘Should I?’, I wondered…