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Magna Mater Austriae


Magna Mater Austriae (Latin for Great Mother of Austria), refers to the Virgin Mary to whom the Austrian territory was dedicated several times and who is therefore regarded as Austria´s special patron saint. For these reasons the Virgin Mary is also called "Alma Mater Austriae" (Kind Mother of Austria), as well as "Venerable Patron Saint of Austria". A representation of the Magna Mater Austriae in the shape of a Byzantine/Late Romanesque sitting statue (13th century) with splendid garments is to be found in the town of Mariazell (an important place of pilgrimage in the province of Styria). Other old churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary are situated at Wilten (in the Tirol, 1140), at Maria Saal (9th century), at Maria am Gestade in Vienna and at Maria Taferl. Literary texts bear witness to the praise of the Virgin Mary in medieval monasteries. The Jesuits founded a lay movement called Marian Congregation. The 17th century has been considered the "Marian century". Karl II of Innerösterreich (one of the four territories into which Austria was split during the 16th century) promoted pilgrimages; Ferdinand II worshipped the Magna Mater Austriae at Mariazell. Emperor Ferdinand III declared the Virgin Mary the "Patrona et Domina Austriae" (a column dedicated to the Virgin Mary was set up on the square "Am Hof" in Vienna, restored by order of Leopold I in 1667). During the reign of Emperor Joseph II pilgrimages were restricted, religious fraternities in honour of Mary the Virgin and votive plaques were forbidden and many churches destroyed. Some, however, were saved from destruction (e.g. the church of Straßengel in the province of Styria). Since the 19th century Pilgrimages have again become popular.


 
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