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Apostolic Movement

Schoenstatt has 2 “International” Shrines – Today is the anniversary of one of them

If Rome is the center of the universal Church, the Schoenstatt Movement certainly had to have its place there, didn’t it? However, in addition to its proximity to the Pope, this place has many other peculiarities.

The Matri Ecclesiae Shrine and the Belmonte Center defined a new era for the Schoenstatt Movement since they were a gift from the entire Schoenstatt Family to the founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, at the end of his exile. It is precisely for this reason that this Shrine is considered an international center.

The Schoenstatt Institute of Diocesan Priests oversees the place and the rector of Belmonte, Father Marcelo Cervi, provides some details.

Why are there two international Shrines?

The Schoenstatt Movement has two international Shrines: the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt, Germany, and the Shrine Matri Ecclesiae, which means “Mother of the Church”, the latter located in Rome and known as Belmonte.

While the former is related to Schoenstatt’s origins in Germany, the latter has to do with Schoenstatt’s mission within the Church and the vision of Candelaria, whereby the whole Church is expected to recognize Schoenstatt’s importance and charism, including the Holy Father.

The Original Shrine in Schoenstatt, Germany, is the origin of Schoenstatt and the Matri Ecclesiae Shrine in Rome, Italy, is its delta: it is the place where the stream of Schoenstatt graces opens definitively to the world from such an emblematic place as Rome, where the catholicity of the Church is experienced unlike anywhere else.

Did Father Joseph Kentenich ask for the construction of this Shrine when he was in Rome at the end of his exile and the Second Vatican Council? What was the intention behind creating this international center?

As a matter of fact, Father Kentenich did not ask for this Shrine, although, like the entire Schoenstatt Family, he harbored the desire to have a Shrine in Rome. For this reason, the Shrine Matri Ecclesiae was given to the father and founder on November 16, 1965, as a gift for his 80th birthday.

It was a gift from the worldwide Schoenstatt Movement, represented by the members of the International Presidium. Our Father gladly accepted this gift and then the members of the Presidium promised him the construction of the Shrine and a retreat house, which would form the international Schoenstatt center in Rome.

Even though the construction had to be postponed due to many setbacks, the General Presidium remained well aware over the years that the promise made to the founder had to be fulfilled.

This came about partially on September 8, 2004, with the inauguration of the Shrine Matri Ecclesiae and then on November 16, 2017, with the inauguration of the Domus Pater Kentenich, the house for retreats and meetings.

The International Schoenstatt Center in Rome wants to be a Schoenstatt benchmark in the Eternal City for all pilgrims and tourists: there, every Schoenstatter can find lodging within a Schoenstatt environment, in addition to being able to learn about Father Kentenich’s attachment to Rome through a series of documents and items that describe the Founding Father’s visits to the city of Rome.


What is the mission of the Matri Ecclesiae Shrine of Rome, in Belmonte, and how does it respond to the challenges facing the Church and the world today?

The significance and importance of the Shrine, which are linked to its mission, are numerous. First, the international Shrine in Rome is important because of its significance as a gift to the Founder, as a monument of gratitude for his release from exile, and as an emblematic place where the Church says yes to the Founder and the Movement.

In this sense Belmonte is the living memory of the fourth historical milestone of the Movement: the acceptance of the Movement by the Church, of the person and charism of the founder and the fulfillment of “all for Schoenstatt; Schoenstatt for the Church and the Church for the Triune God”.

Its importance and mission are linked to the fact that Father Kentenich visited the land where the Shrine stands three times: October 26, 1965, November 16 of the same year and February 2, 1966. It is therefore a place where the father and founder was physically present, a place where his presence is remembered and a place where he spoke about the new image of the Church.

The International Shrine of Rome in Belmonte is an answer to many challenges. The first of these is certainly related to the title of the Shrine: Matri Ecclesiae. It is still necessary to go deeper into the implications of Mary’s title as Mother of the Church and at the same time into the meaning of the Church as mother of all nations.

Its mission also has to do with Father Kentenich’s vision of the Church. In the lectures about the Shrine in Rome, the founder outlined the features of the Church of the new shores, with its own distinct characteristics defined in connection with the ecclesial renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council in Lumen Gentium. A reply to the present crisis of the Church.

In addition, the International Center of Rome wants to provide an opportunity for personalities of the Church in its hierarchy, movements, and organizations, as well as the rest of the world, to come into contact with the movement, with the person of Father Kentenich and to get to know them better. This gives us the opportunity to create the Universal Apostolic Confederation from the coalition of the different Schoenstatt communities, institutes, federations, and leagues, in view of the common mission.

How are the Matri Ecclesiae Shrine and the International Schoenstatt Center in Rome/Belmonte preparing for the Church’s Jubilee in 2025?

The preparation currently focuses mainly on two aspects.

On the one hand the preparation for the Jubilee, which attracts millions of pilgrims to Rome, is connected with the international crowning of the Mother and Queen in the Shrine Matri Ecclesiae, through which we pray for Father Kentenich to be released from the new exile to which he was sent after certain accusations in 2020. On the other hand, for the definitive opening of the Domus Pater Kentenich and the completion of the international center. The coronation of which we will be able to speak about later on will take place at the same time as the Jubilee of the Ecclesial Movements during Pentecost on June 8, 2025.

After that, it will be necessary to begin the spiritual preparation of the Shrine’s collaborators, which will begin with the international meeting of rectors and operators of Shrines, scheduled for November 11-13, 2023, at the Vatican, promoted by the Dicastery for Evangelization. After that meeting, the Shrine’s Council, together with volunteers from all over the world, will have to plan the best way to welcome pilgrims and, at the same time, the staff of the international center will have to become even more aware of its ecclesial and evangelizing mission.


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