Tuesday, June 25: Einsiedeln, Switzerland
We are in real-time now—no more procrastinating writing our pilgrimage memories! It has been ONE YEAR to the day since the Benedictine Pilgrimage.
Church bells wakened us in Einsiedeln, Switzerland at 5:30 am, plenty of time to get breakfast, pack for the day, and wait for the pharmacy, conveniently located across the street from our hotel, to open at 8 a.m. Half the bus had contracted a vicious cold in the previous few days and was anxiously waiting for the pharmacy doors to open. Pharmacists in the store, and a few from our pilgrimage, listened to our symptoms and found us the best cold medicine and treatments to improve our health for the remainder of our pilgrimage.
We celebrated Mass at the Benedictine Abbey of Einsiedeln, well-known as a place of pilgrimage to see the “Black Virgin”, a carved wooden statue of the Madonna, darkened by candles burning cow fat from the 15th century. We celebrated Mass in the Chapel of Grace with the Black Madonna as a focal point.
The Abbey of Einsiedeln was built on the spot where Meinrad, a monk of Reichenau (a later destination on our pilgrimage) had built a hermitage. Through the centuries the monastery evolved—founding other monasteries, serving nobility, becoming near extinction, and finally, plundered and suppressed by French occupation in 1798. It regained a foothold in 1801 and later a school was built, and missionaries sent to North America where St. Meinrad’s was founded in Indiana and monasteries in Subiaco, Arkansas, and Richardton, North Dakota and in Argentina in 1948.
The tour of the Abbey highlighted the resilience of the Rule of St. Benedict and monasticism—at times, the monastery had 200 monks and then only one. From 948, the Abbey had a lending library. Monks, always future-focused and focused on preserving history, would hand copy books for posterity and the public. The current library has 240,000 books.
We drive to Pilatas Mountain through Lucerne and some of the most beautiful scenery in Switzerland. We take the steepest cog rail in the world up the mountain (an altitude of 7000 feet) to have lunch and enjoy the amazing views. We go down the other side of Pilatas mountain via gondola and cable car.
We end our day back in Germany at Lake Constance. We stayed at the Steigenberger Hotel, a former monastery for two nights…and most importantly, it has air conditioning. Hallelujah! Have I mentioned it’s been HOT—like European Heat Wave hot?