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Apostolic Movement

Do you know who Fritz Esser was? We commemorate the centenary of his death

Ursula Doll

Whoever enters a Schoenstatt Shrine immediately sees the frame of light shining around the image of the Blessed Mother, who is venerated as the “Mother Thrice Admirable” (Mater ter admirabilis – MTA). But not all visitors know the name of the person who made this light frame so attractive. He is Fritz Esser, whose tomb is located next to the Schoenstatt Shrine in Weiskirchen, Diocese of Mainz. January 18th marks the 100th anniversary of Fritz Esser’s death. Today we want to learn a little about his life and his legacy for the Schoenstatt Movement.

Initiative of an ardent love for the Blessed Mother Mary

Fritz, in poor health, was a student of Father Kentenich’s who always had to work hard to reach the class goals. This young man, who once said of himself that he was ten times dumber than he looked, developed an ardent love for the Blessed Mother, for whose sake he made many sacrifices and always wanted to help so that his classmates would enjoy spending time in the Schoenstatt Shrine. He decorated it and made it welcoming as best he could and even planted a small garden in front of it.

With a lot of effort, hard work and prayers, Fritz managed to pass the annual exam, which he did despite the serious illnesses from which he was suffering. The driving force behind his idea of offering Mary a frame of light in the Original Shrine was gratitude for the Blessed Virgin’s help in his studies, the formation of groups during the First World War, his success in his apostolic zeal, his faithfulness to his vocation, her help in sickness and the five years of existence of the Marian Congregation, founded on April 19, 1914. He enjoyed the full and active support of the Pallottine brothers. With their help, the frame was even provided with electric light.

A servant of Mary never perishes

The inscription: SERVUS MARIAE NUNQUAM PERIBIT (A Servant of Mary Never Perishes), was intended to be the declaration of his young life and that of the Marian Congregation, as indicated by the two beveled numbers 1914 – 1919. It was probably placed to mark the fifth anniversary of the Marian Congregation, Sunday in Albis, April 27, 1919.

This wooden light frame hung in the Original Shrine until 1934, when it broke while being removed. The constant heat from the light bulbs undoubtedly contributed to this. The Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary had already made a reproduction of this frame before 1934, which was hung in their home chapel on December 8, 1928, and now hangs in the Adoration Sisters’ house on Mount Schoenstatt. The new light frame for the Original Shrine was made of metal and can now be seen in more than 220 daughter shrines around the world.

A frame from which much light emanates

How much light has radiated since then from this frame around the picture of the Blessed Mother in the Shrines, giving hope and comfort to countless people!

The Schoenstatt Family in Mainz preserves a 10 cm piece of the original frame that Fritz Esser built, which can be seen in the Schoenstatt Center in Weiskirchen.

Fritz Esser’s grave next to the Weiskirchen shrine

*Adapted text. Source:

Featured photo: Schoenstatt Fathers Nigeria


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