Our Blessed Mother visits Austria

In the late evening of September 28th, the Icon of the Black Madonna journeyed through the Alpine mountain chain and arrived in Austria.  For the last two days, She travelled through northern Italy.

The meeting took place in a beautiful, mountain village of Lienz, not far from the Italian border.  It was already completely dark as She arrived with the Italian minivan and was brought inside the Church of St. Andrew, where a group of local residents greeted Her with their dark-skinned pastor, Father Quedraogo Jean Paul, who comes from Africa.  The Holy Rosary was recited and traditional Austrian Marian songs were sung.  The visit lasted around 45 minutes, after which Our Lady left for the charming town of Villach, two hours away.  The beautifully illuminated Life Mobile made a great impression.

Along the way, though, the police patrol stopped us, as they were conducting a routine check of all the vehicles.  You should have seen their surprised faces!  They have not seen this type of vehicle, yet.  They were very kind and curious.  Jokingly, they looked over the route of the peregrination "From Ocean to Ocean" and wished us a good journey.

In front of the Church of St. James in the very center of Villach, a well-known tourist city in Carinthia, the local parishioners waited for Our Lady with their pastor, the Rev. Prof. Alfons Maria Wedenig.  The well-lit altar allowed for the the Icon to be beautifully highlighted.  Everything was carefully prepared.  A beautiful bouquet of white roses was placed in front of the Icon.  The most steadfast venerated Our Lady throughout the entire night.  Even between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. there were still about 20 people on their knees.  The church remained open all night.

In the morning on Saturday, the ringing of the church bells commenced the celebration in honor of the visiting Our Lady of Czestochowa.  The traditional Hejnal was played.  Rev. Dean Herbert Burgstaller, assisted by Pastor Wedenig, presided over the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  During the homily, the celebrant emphasized that the residents of Villach have a unique place in Mary's heart, since she came to visit them on the Feast of St. Gabriel, the Archangel and on top of it, on a Saturday.  After the Holy Mass, the priests together with the faithful made the Act of Entrustment to Our Blessed Mother.

The parting was very heartfelt.  The faithful with their pastor, who were all very touched, came out of the church smiling and waving to say goodbye.