I have several vivid and sacred memories of visiting Maria Stein as a child. It seems that for my mother, August 15 was a special day of pilgrimage. So, our family went the 25 miles to Maria Stein to pray with the Sisters in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The silence, the prayerful awe surrounded me with a “very special feeling” of being close to God in the recitation of the oral prayers as well as in the silent adoration. We usually made a visit to the Relic Chapel as well.
Also, as a child I remember going to visit my great, great aunt, Sister Bertranda Fecher, who was stationed at Maria Stein. I remember the quiet again, the dimly lit room and the conversations that my Mom had with Sister. Naturally, Sister always made a fuss over “the little ones,” probably hoping with my Mom that someday one of her daughters would be a Sister of the Precious Blood.
As I grew up, I remember participating each year in the Pilgrimage for Peace, which was sponsored by the Knights of St. John. For my Mom, Dad and my siblings, walking from St. John Church to the Maria Stein Shrine grounds while praying the rosary was a sacred yearly ritual. Those many years ago, we were remembering Our Lady of Fatima’s request to pray the rosary for peace, as we remember now with the 100th anniversary. In those days there were large crowds and during one of these processions, I was taking care of my youngest sister who escaped my care. Never will I forget that feeling until we found her nearby, being taken care of by a lovely woman!
Also, I remember my Mom going to Maria Stein with the women of the St. Peter parish area for their regular hours of adoration. This was very special for her, and she looked forward to those hours. I think that through her perseverance, I also felt an appreciation of the devotion of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.