Maria in der Tanne
The amiability of the Mother of God has very often been shown in the way she attracts the faithful to special places of pilgrimage, thus increasing their love and confidence in her. One such place is Triberg in the German Black Forest, where Our Lady is honoured at the Shrine of Maria in der Tanne (“Mary in the Fir”).
In 1644 a 7-year-old girl named Barbara Franz was walking with her mother. They came to a stately fir tree near a spring. Someone had, at an earlier time, attached a picture of Mary in her Immaculate Conception to the tree, but it had fallen to the ground. Barbara picked up the picture and took it home. There she placed it on the home altar, where the whole family venerated it. Three days later Barbara became very ill, with an affliction in her eyes. No remedy seemed to help, so her afflicted parents begged for God’s help through Our Lady. In a dream, Barbara was told she would be cured when she returned the picture to the fir tree by the spring. She did so and, together with her parents, prayed fervently. When Barbara washed her eyes in the spring, she was instantly cured.
The next year, a wood-cutter, Friedrich Schwab became very ill. Having heard of the miraculous cure, he made a pilgrimage to the tree-shrine and promised to make a wood carving of Our Lady if he was cured. He, too, washed in the waters of the spring and was instantly cured. He kept his promise and replaced the ageing picture with his lovely carving.
Unfortunately, the statue was almost forgotten as the years passed. On December 20, 1692, three soldiers heard beautiful singing near the area. They made inquiries and discovered that others had also heard the singing. Then they were told that there had formerly been a shrine of Our Lady in a fir tree in that place. They diligently searched the area and at last located the little statue, almost grown over in the fir tree. The soldiers uncovered, cleaned and decorated the statue, naming it, “Mary, Patroness of Soldiers.” One of them, Gabriel Maurer, was also favoured with a miraculous cure. For 35 years he helped in the building of the pilgrimage church.
This time the shrine was not forgotten. As more cures took place, more and more pilgrims came. The first small chapel was soon replaced by a magnificent baroque church, where the little wood carving was enshrined.