“I accept this gift gladly and immediately!” said Father Kentenich to Auxiliary Bishop Heinrich Tenhumberg in 1965, when he told him about the offer of the General Presidium of the Schoenstatt Work to build a shrine and a Schoenstatt center in Rome. He also certainly says this now to his Czech Schoenstatt Family, who like many other countries financially supports the newly opened center in Belmonte and is working out the interior design for the “Czech Room.” For the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary in the Czech Republic, it is a great joy to be able to take part in this project with their own symbols.
The Infant of Prague
The Infant of Prague is an important and well-known symbol of the Czech Republic. The original miraculous statue of grace is located in Prague. A replica of the Infant Jesus, which stood for several years in the Schoenstatt Shrine in northeastern Bohemia (“Bethlehem Shrine”), has already had its place in the center in Belmonte since 2006.
Cross and Picture of Mary
Further symbols for the Czech Room are a cross and the picture of the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen, and Victress of Schoenstatt, which is currently still located in the sisters’ central house in Rokole. The cross was carved after a portrayal by the famous Czech sculptor Josef Václav Myslbek. It expresses especially well the surrender of Jesus out of love for us human beings.
Picture Frame Tells History
The history of the Czech Schoenstatt Movement, which is closely bound up with the history of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary in the Czech Republic, is illustrated in the frame of the picture of Mary. At the top of the frame is an image of St. Wenceslaus’ crown, with which all Czech kings were crowned. As a complement to the crown, one can see the two towers of the basilica in Velehrad, where the apostles to the Slavs, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, worked. In this church the Czech Schoenstatt Movement crowned the Blessed Mother in 1985 as Queen of Moravia.
The Original Shrine and the old chapel in Rokole are also illustrated on the frame. There the first native priests sealed the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother on August 11, 1939. From this time on, Rokole became the cradle of the Schoenstatt Movement in the former Czechoslovakia. Next to the chapel flows a fountain with healing waters. This symbolizes the waters of grace that flow from the shrine. The difficult time of totalitarian rule and the persecution during socialism is represented by the prison bars. At that time, Schoenstatt priests, Sisters of Mary, and also a few members of the Schoenstatt Movement had to go to prison for their faith convictions.
On the other side of the picture frame, the Bethlehem Shrine in Rokole as the symbol for the new time, as well as the logo of the center in Belmonte, are illustrated.
Ears of wheat, the symbol of the seed and the first fruits, stand for the first founding generation of Schoenstatt in the Czech Republic. The leaves of the linden tree are a reminder of the national tree of the Czech Republic. The leaves in the shape of hearts express the specific mission of the Czech Schoenstatt Family: to be a family, to form relationships, and to unite all people in love.
Czech Delegation Brings Symbols to Rome
The cross and the picture of Mary will be brought to Rome by a Czech delegation in September 2018. “We are looking forward to the day when the symbols will process into the heart of the Church,” said Sister M. Magdaléna of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary in the Czech Republic.