Saturday, December 7, 2013
Carrying Our Lady Through Advent
There exists in German-speaking Europe a very praiseworthy custom during Advent known in German as, "Frauen Tragen" or "Carrying of Our Lady". It is a custom that we would do well to introduce here in North America. Above all to introduce authentic Marian piety to Catholic families and introduce the nightly family Rosary.
Carrying Our Lady in Advent
"Carrying Our Lady - an old custom" - what is it?
The "Carrying of Our Lady" is an old Christian Advent custom. The festive season is all about the path of renewal and pilgrimage: Mary and Joseph are traveling to Bethlehem, the shepherds search for the child. God and man are coming toward each other. The search for shelter, the biblical account in Luke 2.7 is: "because there was no room in the inn for them."
In the period from the first Sunday of Advent until December 24 Catholic parishes in December there is the opportunity with an image of the pregnant Virgin Mary represented along the lines of "Bogensberger Madonna" to be offered a place to stay in Parish family's homes or in their apartments.
The image of the Holy Virgin is passed during the Advent season from family to family. Our Lady remains emblematic in every family one day. In the evening the image of Our Lady is brought by the family to the next family. Upon arrival There will be an Advent devotional. The next day the statue is passed on to the next family. Or if there is no place to be found, Our Lady remains longer in that household until another family is found. The image can also visit in a kindergarten or day care center for carol singing for a day or a few hours and then brought back to the family for the evening.
Those families wishing to house the image of Our Lady in their homes, place their names on a designated list in November in the parish office. For a day - or more - this gives ample time for personal conversation with Our Lady, and on the other hand, there is the possibility for the family, to invite friends and family to an Advent rosary together.
The blessing and sending of the image of Our Lady takes place on first Sunday of Advent in the parish church, and on 24 December, the Mother of God is brought in procession to be received in the Christmas midnight Mass.
It is not known in how many parishes carry on the tradition of "carrying of Our Lady" which in other areas is also known as a "search for shelter for Our Lady". There is Evidence that it is common in any case in parts of Bavaria, Austria and more recently in the Rhineland. The custom is practiced in families, day care centers and other parish houses, there are different variants. The Marian image, which corresponds to the "Bogensberger Mother of God" and the pregnant Virgin as portrayed, in the 18th and 19 Century in many "common than Pilgrimage statues" (see Lechner, p 119). But there were e.g. and representations of the "Visitation", the visit of Mary to Elizabeth carried around.
One of the customs of the early 1990s from circulating letters from Linz states that "Seeking Shelter" begins nine days before Christmas. The magazine recommends:... "It is Best when we have a reception of the Image of Our Lady on December 16 in the church. Then during the midnight Mass the image is brought in procession back to the Church on Christmas Eve, it must be ensured that artistically acceptable images are selected, the image is not picked up by the next family but brought to it by the previous one in expectation. Along the way the family prays ideally the first two decades of the Joyful mysteries Rosary (aloud or silently), or sings Advent carols. " Vienna in 1990/91 there was a poll that showed the result that 59% of Catholic parishes practiced this tradition of "seeking a shelter for Mary".
Report on women wearing, introduced in a Catholic parish in Schäftlarn 2003, see
Lechner, Gregory M.: The Bogensberger miraculous image of "Mary in the hope". In: Mary Everywhere. Landshut 1999, pp. 113-122.
Wolf, Helga Maria: The custom book. Old traditions, new traditions, customs, anti. Vienna 1992