Mariastein

One of the things I have most loved about my time with Sr Delia have been our walks and talks together. It was such a gift to have a week to catch up, to muse about life and theology and all sorts of things.

On one day we took the bus to a little village on (or maybe just beyond) the outskirts of Basel, and then spent the day walking through beautiful countryside at a leisurely pace, towards this famous (at least in Switzerland) pilgrimage site.

I have no idea what these berries are called. 👆🏼 If anyone knows, please do comment!

We stopped halfway up a hill by St Anne’s little fountain and Delia shared this delicious anisbrötli with me (a kind of sweet aniseed biscuit/cake). Apparently it’s quite easy to make. Hmmm might have to try that!

And here’s the Church with the grotto underneath it that people come here on pilgrimage for. Much though I like the very simple unfussy Reformation style churches, it was kind of nice to see a bit more church bling here! I’m not quite sure how this church survived the Reformation without having all the bling stripped away. Presumably it was partly because it was in the middle of nowhere?

In the church there was an exhibition depicting the life of Mary by the Italian artist Stella Radicati. She made the angel Gabriel look pretty fit, I thought! And I liked that Joseph was taking responsibility for carrying the baby while the couple fled to Egypt, looking suitably worried:

Hundreds of plaques line the walls of the tunnel that leads to the grotto under the church containing a famous statue of Mary. People have sent the plaques to record their thanks for answered prayers.

I didn’t take any pictures in the grotto as the light was poor and I didn’t want to disturb the pilgrims there. But, as often happens to me in these traditional holy buildings, I found I felt more connected with God just outside, surrounded by beautiful views of the natural world than I did inside the building. I guess it takes all sorts to make a world, as my Grandma used to say.

We repaired to a local café where Delia persuaded me to try Vermicell. A slightly sweet dessert made with cooked chestnuts mushed up and then squeezed through something like an icing bag to make the worm like shape.

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