25th Anniversary Pilgrimage to Mariahilfberg celebrates intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary during 17th Century Bubonic plague
AMBERG, GERMANY – The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA(AMS), was represented this month at an annual German soldiers’ pilgrimage to a 300-year-old landmark church on a mount named for the Blessed Virgin Mary over Amberg, Bavaria. On July 2, Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer, AMS Episcopal Vicar for Europe and Asia, joined Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck, Ordinary for the Bundeswehr (German Federal Defense Force), and more than 12-hundred other pilgrims for the five-mile walk fromKümmersbruck to the Mariahilfberg (“Maria Help Mount”) Church.
The Mariahilfberg received its name during the Bubonic plague in the Thirty Years’ War in 1633-34, when the local population beseeched the Blessed Mother to rid them of the plague and promised to build a church on top of the hill if the epidemic in Amberg would go away. Their prayers were answered.
Bishop Spencer said:
“It was a thrill to participate in this holy pilgrimage honoring our Blessed Mother. I was blessed and honored to support the German Catholic Military Community as it remembered in thanksgiving the graces received, relieving this community of the devastating Black Plague. The Face of Mary continues to gaze upon us in this year of 2015, just as she did centuries ago.”
Atop the mount, Bishops Overbeck and Spencer concelebrated an outdoor Mass before joining the pilgrims for lunch at a nearby beer garden, celebrating completion of the 25th anniversary pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage is organized each year by the Amberg Bundeswehr Catholic Military Chaplains Office.