Schoenstatt Movement

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Schoenstatt Center in Florencio Varela, Argentina

The Schoenstatt Movement (also Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt ) is an international spiritual renewal movement and an association of believers in the Catholic Church with an apostolic orientation. The place of origin and the spiritual center is Schoenstatt , a district of Vallendar near Koblenz . The federally structured movement is coordinated by the so-called General Presidium, which has its seat in Schoenstatt.


Original Shrine
Luigi Crosio : Altarpiece Refuge of sinners

The history of the Schoenstatt Movement was shaped by the two world wars, in which many Schoenstatters came into contact with other soldiers and prisoners, and the growth of the young movement that took place in between. After the Second World War she was put to the test of the Catholic Church and was in conflict with the Pallottines . After the Second Vatican Council, Josef Kentenich's ideas were confirmed and the movement continued to expand.


The founder of the international Schoenstatt Movement, Father Josef Kentenich, had been spiritual at the Pallottine Study Home, a boys' boarding school in Schoenstatt near Vallendar , since the end of October 1912 , and as such was entrusted with the spiritual accompaniment and support of the young people. He developed and taught Kentenich pedagogy , an educational technique with which the educator helps the child to be educated to recognize and develop his or her individual ideal. Kentenich's most famous students include a. Josef Engling .

As a spiritualist, he realized that the church of his day was made up of innumerable forms, rules and traditions , but was often little more than a chore in the lives and hearts of people.

Already during the Christmas holidays 1912/13 he founded a mission association with interested schoolchildren, which developed into a Marian congregation founded on April 19, 1914 , the focus of which was the Eucharist and mission . The central theme was the renewal of the Catholic faith, less from the theoretical side than from the observation of life.

The group set up a former cemetery chapel of the former Augustinian convent in Schoenstatt , which was vacant at the time, as a meeting room . As the original shrine, this chapel became the spiritual center of the movement over the decades .

In an effort to bring Christian faith back into harmony with everyday life, he and the members of the Marian Congregation concluded the covenant of love for the first time on October 18, 1914 , a covenant with Mary modeled on the biblical covenant of God . This process later became known as the Charter of Incorporation.

Became central themes for the ever-evolving congregation

  • the psychological access to one's own individual personality and the resulting starting points for a personal belief,
  • the emphasis on community and
  • aligning life with ideals (both personally and for a whole group). Such ideals can be formulated goals or characteristics, but also role models. In this context Mary has a special position.


When the First World War broke out , the young men of the boarding school were called up as soldiers. So they spread their ideas among their comrades and quickly found followers in religiously interested soldiers. The magazine "Mater ter admirabilis" served as a means of communication, in which excerpts from letters from soldiers and reports on events in Schoenstatt could be read. After the end of the war, Father Kentenich was released to look after the group, which had grown significantly in the meantime.

On 20 August 1919 a group of former soldiers founded the Apostolic Federation , one year later, was Apostolic League . Soon women also joined the movement and formed the women's association ; the first members were Gertraud Countess von Bullion and her cousin Marie Christmann on December 8, 1920 . In the 1920s, the young movement became very popular. It was particularly well received by teachers, theology students and priests.

As the movement grew, many communities emerged in the years that followed: the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary emerged from the Women's Association in 1926 and the Women of Schoenstatt in 1938 . Within two decades, the Schoenstatt Movement was present in many places within the Catholic Church in Germany and also expanded abroad. In 1933 the Sisters of Mary were sent to South Africa , Brazil , Argentina and Chile for the first time to support the Schoenstatt groups that were emerging there.

During the period between the two world wars, Father Josef Kentenich held many retreats , lectures and conferences.

Problems in National Socialism

The church hostility of National Socialism in the “Third Reich” also and especially had an impact on the Schoenstatt Movement, which was declared to run counter to National Socialist ideals. Many Schoenstatters suffered from persecution by the Nazi regime, which included harassment, punitive transfers, bans on preaching and speaking and house searches. Some were also arrested and taken to concentration camps , including the founder, Father Kentenich, and some of his close associates such as Father Josef Fischer and Father Albert Eise as well as Heinz Dresbach, Heinrich König and Karl Leisner . Father Franz Reinisch refused to obey Hitler and was sentenced to death for it.

Father Kentenich was arrested on September 20, 1941 and ended up in the Dachau concentration camp . There he continued to work in captivity - so he refused to share the parcels with food that he received with his fellow prisoners in the concentration camp, because he had to support his movement - and spread the ideas of the Schoenstatt Movement also among fellow prisoners through whom they got to many other countries after the war. Kentenich succeeded in secretly sending letters to the Sisters of Mary through a guard. For security reasons, he hid his theological thoughts and instructions to the Sisters of Mary in seemingly naive verses, which were later published as “Hirtenspiegel” and “ Himmelwärts ”. From the concentration camp, Father Kentenich founded the Institute of the Schoenstatt Families and the Brothers of Mary .

Chaplain Gerhard Daldrup in Ibbenbüren was one of their followers, and he especially venerated the "Madonna of Schoenstatt". The parishioners often met at the local chapel and Pastor Daldrup held a prayer in honor of the Queen of Mary. He had built a grotto with a life-size figure of Mary in his garden on Roggenkampstrasse. At the height of this veneration, the Holthauser Waldkapelle was also built in 1934 , it was also a Schoenstatt Chapel, called “Maria-Wegweiserin”. Daldrup became known because he publicly stood up for two local Jews in 1937 and was punished by the state. A Catholic young men association , Düsseldorf region, group "Sturmschar" in Wesel had been his sphere of activity before. His work in Hamborn is also attested, at that time he wrote about "Youth and Chastity".

Kentenich returned to Schoenstatt on May 20, 1945, despite all the hardships he later described as the “high time” for the movement. After his return from the concentration camp, Kentenich pursued three goals that shaped the development of the movement in the following years:

  • The internationalization of the movement,
  • "Rooting" the movement in other countries and
  • Clarification of the canonical status of the movement and its communities.

Conflict with the church

The first conflict with the Episcopal Ordinariats in Trier and Limburg arose as early as the 1930s : From 1935 to 1938 there was a dispute with Kentenich, which mainly related to some elements of Schoenstatt spirituality that were described as "special ideas" :

  • The local bond with the sanctuary,
  • the understanding of the consecration to Mary as a covenant of love,
  • the "contributions to the capital of grace " and
  • the belief in the “mission of Schoenstatt for the Church and the world”.

After an episcopal visitation by the Trier auxiliary bishop Bernhard Stein to the secular institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary recognized by canon law in 1948 , Kentenich criticized the visitation report in a very direct way in a letter dated May 31, 1949 (“Epistola perlonga”) and thus provoked a conflict with the Official Church and its “mechanical thinking”. As a result, the movement experienced a long ecclesiastical examination, the climax of which was the papal visitation by the Holy Office from 1951 to 1953. As a result, Kentenich was separated from his work on September 30 and spent his exile in Milwaukee from June 21, 1952 . Since he did not see himself as an accuser or a fighter, but as an innovator and friend of the Church, Kentenich followed all of the conditions. After 13 years in exile, Kentenich was appointed by Pope Paul VI. rehabilitated and returned to Schoenstatt on December 14, 1965.

Schoenstatt and Pallottines

The Schoenstatt Movement originated in the Pallottine branch in Vallendar. Kentenich was spiritual at the boys' boarding school and the first Schoenstatters were all Pallottine students. The movement quickly grew beyond the Pallottine environment during World War II, but continued to be in the spirit of Vincent Pallotti. She was closely linked to the Pallottines both organizationally and personally. Kentenich and other fathers were released to work in the movement and tried, contrary to many reservations and despite the different nature of the ideas, to spread the word among the Pallottines. In addition to the Sisters of Mary, the Pallottine Fathers had the function of the Latin pars motrix et centralis (for “moving and central part”) - a Pallottine term for the Schoenstatt Movement . The General Chapter of the Pallottines in 1947 confirmed the Schoenstatt Movement as a contemporary realization of the ideas of Vincent Pallotti from the World Apostolate Association .

Nevertheless, there were always tensions in the relationship between the Pallottines and Schoenstatt. While Kentenich was in exile, the question of whether Schoenstatt was part of the Pallottines and the Vincent Pallottis family or whether it had its own mission arose. This dispute led to the legal separation from the Pallottines in 1964. The following year the Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers was founded, to which the Pallottine Fathers and diocesan priests associated with Schoenstatt moved and took on the role of spiritual direction previously assumed by the Pallottines.

Inner consolidation

After his return from exile, Kentenich worked for three years to further develop the Schoenstatt Movement, gave lectures, conferences and retreats and supported the implementation of the reforms of the council. He died on September 15, 1968.

After his death, the founder was quickly worshiped and his grave in the sacristy of the Adoration Church became a magnet for pilgrims. The beatification process began in 1975.

In the 1970s, the central communities were recognized as secular institutes under papal law.

After the worldwide spread of the movement, a phase of inculturation began, an increased emphasis on the national Schoenstatt families in their cultural environment. Kentenich's 100th birthday was celebrated in Schoenstatt in 1984/1985 with a year of commemoration and an international festival week. Pope John Paul II visited the Cor Ecclesiae Schoenstatt Center in Rome on September 20, 1985 and confirmed the charism of the founder and the movement.

Schoenstatt today

The movement is also known for its commitment in the area of ​​marriage and family, education ( Kentenich education ), youth and in socio-political and social areas.


Central themes are the above-mentioned ideas with which Josef Kentenich brought the movement into being in 1914: Christian personality development, orientation towards ideals (concretized, for example, in Kentenich's ideal pedagogy ), an original form of alliance theology known as the alliance of love , the importance of community for the life of faith and personal growth. Methodologically, people meet to exchange ideas at regular group meetings or at conferences where the topics mentioned are concretized.

Schoenstatt has become known worldwide through a large number of courses for married couples: from the classic marriage preparation course in an expanded and more modern form to counseling for couples in crisis situations, education courses for parents, Kentenich pedagogy courses, marriage trainer courses to family conferences that are called Weekly workshops for married couples at vacation spots are offered. In addition, for example, camps and camps for children and young people, retreats for priests and spiritual lectures for lay people interested in theology are offered.

Schoenstatt's spirituality is essentially shaped by the belief in God's guidance in everyday life and an organism of personal, local and ideal relationships.

Covenant of love

In the Schoenstatt Covenant of Love , Mary , the woman close to God and people, plays a central role. Through the covenant of love, in which the mutual responsibility of the alliance partners plays a central role, Mary was asked to act in a special way in Schoenstatt as the mother and educator of Christians for a deep, lively and everyday love for God and people.

The covenant of love with Mary and the bond with the Original Shrine that was rooted in it became the center of both Schoenstatt as a spiritual center and the spiritual center and home of the international apostolic movement of Schoenstatt.

Grace capital

In many of the 200 Schoenstatt chapels spread around the world, visitors will find a large jug in front of the altar. People write gifts on pieces of paper that they “give” to God (such as not smoking for a day or making someone happy) and wishes that they ask from God and the Mater Ter Admirabilis (MTA). Kentenich called this simple process the “capital of grace”. He describes the gifts to God and the gifts from God as capital of grace.

Home shrine

Most “Schoenstatters” prefer to build a more modern version in their own house instead of the “ Herrgottswinkel ” that is common with Catholics : a small so-called “home shrine ” - a kind of pilgrimage site in the living room with an MTA picture and a small version of the jug described above. Small sacrifices are made on small slips of paper and requests are made in the home. The most important point for Schoenstatt families is the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother . The family develops a more positive image of God than is usual in many strictly brought up Catholic families: "You can do what you want, I like you for who you are!"

Schoenstatt Movement Logo

The logo of the Schoenstatt Movement symbolizes the Original Shrine as the starting point and center of the movement. It is surrounded by the city wall of the heavenly Jerusalem from the Revelation of John , on the one hand the cross can be recognized as the basic shape and on the other hand also the 12 city gates of the new city.

“While the walls offer a shelter for a spiritual atmosphere, the open gates invite you to meet and exchange life. How living faith is experienced and learned here should not remain hidden, but radiate and be carried into society and the church and their everyday life situations. "

Many divisions of the movement use their own logos in order to emphasize their special features and to have their own identification feature. These logos are mostly derived from the logo of the Schoenstatt Movement and thus also show that they belong to the Schoenstatt Family.


Pilgrim Church in Schoenstatt
Schoenstatt Educational Center Haus Maria Rast near Kreuzweingarten

Today the Schoenstatt Movement is widespread in over 130 countries around the world, in addition to the German-speaking area, especially in Latin America , Spain , Portugal , the United States and India, as well as in some African countries. The founding place of Schoenstatt is the spiritual center and focal point of the now international movement. Every year tens of thousands of pilgrims make the pilgrimage to the Original Shrine, the place where the Schoenstatt Movement was born.

Worldwide there are 200 Schoenstatt chapels , more or less faithful replicas of the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt, of which 56 are in Germany , 29 in the rest of Europe and 76 in South America . In the German-speaking area there are 44 regional Schoenstatt Centers, mostly with a shrine as the center and other facilities such as educational and conference centers or houses of the Schoenstatt communities.

The movement leader of the Schoenstatt Movement Germany has been Father Ludwig Güthlein since 2015 as the successor of Father Lothar Penners .


Members of the Schoenstatt Movement do not have to enter into a formal contract, but merely bind themselves to the movement through a consecration to Jesus by Mary, which is called the covenant of love with Mary . Since Kentenich was for the greatest possible freedom, he rejected vows as a community bond. The secular institutes he founded have a contract as a bond between the individual and the community, which is linked to the covenant of love with Mary (“consecration of the contract”). For this reason there are no membership fees in the area of ​​the broad movement. The communities finance themselves through donations, participation fees, grants for religious events and fundraising, among other things.


The Schoenstatt Movement consists of several independent, federally structured sub-communities, which can be classified into three categories:

The core communities are the secular institutes and federations, in which the members live in chastity, obedience and poverty according to the instructions of the evangelical councils .
In the case of the confederations, the bond to the community is mandatory, but not legally binding.
Membership in the league community takes place by making the covenant of love without a formal admission. There is no obligation to community.

There is also the Schoenstatt Youth, which consists of the Schoenstatt Male Youth ( SMJ ) and the Schoenstatt Movement Girls / Young Women ( Schoenstatt MJF ), the pilgrimage movement to the Schoenstatt Shrines and various inter-community projects. The sub-communities mostly have structures on an international, national and diocesan level, sometimes also on a regional level.

The entirety of these federally organized sub-movements is called the "Schoenstatt Family" or "Schoenstatt Work".

Association Federation league
priest Schoenstatt Fathers Priests' union Priest League
Diocesan priest
Men Marian Brothers Men's association Men's league
Deacon League
Familys Schoenstatt Family Institute Family union Family league
Mothers Mothers' union Women and mothers
Women Sisters of Mary Women's Association Women's league
Women of Schoenstatt
Sick and disabled Association of the disabled and sick Sick and Disabled League
youth Schoenstatt male youth
Schoenstatt Movement Girls / Young Women
All People's and pilgrimage movement
Theologians Theological community
Academics Academic League
Student community

Schoenstatt pilgrimage routes

Logo of the Schoenstatt Pilgrimage Routes
Signposts for the Schoenstatt pilgrimage routes

The Schoenstatt pilgrimage routes lead to the Schoenstatt Marian pilgrimage site in Vallendar near Koblenz on the Rhine . This is where the so-called Original Shrine is located - the world's first of around 200 Schoenstatt chapels . This place with its miraculous image is the spiritual center of the international Schoenstatt Movement.

Schoenstatt pilgrimage routes connect places of pilgrimage, Schoenstatt centers, and historically and culturally significant places. In doing so, they make use of the existing network of pilgrimage and hiking trails. Little by little, these paths will be established. The pilgrimage routes are signposted with a uniform logo.

  • SP1: Fulda - Vogelsberg - Weilburg - Hadamar - Montabaur - Schoenstatt
  • SP2: Maria Laach - Vordereifel - Koblenz - Schoenstatt
  • SP3: Karlsruhe - Herxheim - Mannheim - Mainz - Wiesbaden - Bad Ems - Schoenstatt
  • SP4: Betzdorf - Marienstatt - Hachenburg - Westerwald - Schoenstatt
  • SP5: Trier - Moselle - Eifel - Wittlich - Mayen - Koblenz - Schoenstatt


Father Josef Kentenich on a West German postage stamp


  • Internationales Josef Kentenich Institute for Research and Teaching eV (Ed.): Schoenstatt Lexicon. Facts - ideas - life. Patris-Verlag, Vallendar 1996, ISBN 3-87620-195-0 ( ).
  • Central terms of Schoenstatt. Small lexical commentary on the writings and lectures of Father Josef Kentenich, edited by Herta Schlosser. Schoenstatt Publishing House, Vallendar 1977, ISBN 3-920849-31-0 . (2nd, extended edition 1979)
  • Schoenstatt. The deeds of incorporation. Schoenstatt Publishing House, Vallendar 1967 (7th edition 1995, ISBN 3-920849-13-2 )
  • Ferdinand Kastner: Under the protection of Mary . Studies and documents from the early days of Schoenstatt 1912–1914. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 1939, DNB 580341356 . (4th abridged edition. 1952)
  • Ferdinand Kastner: Marianic Christ design of the world. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 1936, DNB 361034873 . (3rd fully revised edition 1937, 5th extended edition 1941)
  • Josef Kentenich: General doctrine of principles of the Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt. Introductory conference for priests, 1928. Edited by Herta Schlosser. Schoenstatt Publishing House, Vallendar 1999, ISBN 3-920849-92-2 .
  • Joseph Kentenich: Texts for Understanding Schoenstatt. Edited by P. Günther M. Boll. Patris-Verlag, Vallendar 1974, ISBN 3-87620-038-5 . (Contains: The “Special Ideas” of Schoenstatt 1935, Schoenstatt as Place of Grace 1944, Key to Understanding Schoenstatt 1951)
  • Joseph Kentenich: The secret of Schoenstatt's life. (1952), 2 vols. (Part I: Geist und Form, Part II: Alliance piety ), Patris-Verlag, Vallendar 1971–1972, DNB 540090166 .
  • Josef Lammerskötter (Ed.): Schoenstatt. On the history and structure of an apostolic movement, Münster 1963.
  • Engelbert Monnerjahn: Schoenstatt. An introduction, Schoenstatt-Verlag, Vallendar 1966. (5th edition 1993, ISBN 3-920849-61-2 ).
To the Schoenstatt pilgrimage routes
  • The soul walks on foot, Schoenstatt Pilgrimage Route 2 Maria Laach - Schoenstatt. Patris-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-87620-437-6 .
  • On the way with you, Schoenstatt Pilgrimage Route 4 from Betzdorf to Schoenstatt. Patris-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-87620-438-3 .

Web links

Commons : Schoenstatt Movement  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Pontifical Laity Council in the Vatican (ed.): The spiritual communities of the Catholic Church. Compendium. ISBN 3-7462-1995-7 ( ).
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Joachim Schmiedl: Schoenstatt, history . In: Hubertus Brantzen (Ed.): Schoenstatt Lexicon: Facts - Ideas - Life . 2nd unchanged edition. Patris-Verlag, Vallendar 2002, ISBN 3-87620-195-0 ( ).
  3. See LHAKo Order 700,285 No. 1
  4. City Museum
  5. In Ibbenbüren Kaplan Daldrup, for example, was revoked in the spring of 1937 (in schools) for “defending the Jews”. Against a teacher's claim that “the Jews cannot do anything good,” the chaplain referred to two local Jews whose charity was well known. P. 138
  6. residents' book of the city of Wesel, Kühler-Verlag 1928, p. 19; as well as editions on history
  7. ^ Pastor bonus, Volume 27, Paulinus-Druckerei, 1915, pp. 140, 207
  8. ^ Joachim Schmiedl: Stein, Bernhard . In: Hubertus Brantzen (Ed.): Schoenstatt Lexicon: Facts - Ideas - Life . 2nd unchanged edition. Patris-Verlag, Vallendar 2002, ISBN 3-87620-195-0 ( [accessed on April 21, 2015]).
  9. ^ Paul Vautier: Pallotti and Schoenstatt . In: Hubertus Brantzen (Ed.): Schoenstatt Lexicon: Facts - Ideas - Life . 2nd unchanged edition. Patris-Verlag, Vallendar 2002, ISBN 3-87620-195-0 , p. 299 ff . ( [accessed on April 21, 2015]).
  10. Address of John Paul II to the members of the Apostolic Schoenstatt Movement , Libreria Editrice Vaticana. September 20, 1985 (accessed April 21, 2015)
  11. Schoenstatt Logo . Website of the Schoenstatt Movement in the Archdiocese of Bamberg (accessed on May 9, 2011)
  12. Schoenstatt Shrines in the World (April 2015)
  13. Schoenstatt Centers in German-speaking countries - overview map with links to - accessed on July 12, 2011.
  14. Press release of September 22nd, 2015: Father Ludwig Güthlein elected as the new leader of the Schoenstatt Movement in Germany .