To travel hopefully… and arrive in Mariatrost. Located on Purberg hill in Graz, this church is one of the best-known pilgrimage destinations in Styria. Many pilgrims from all over Europe converge here to ascend the 216 steps to the basilica that towers gloriously toward the heavens. The holy shrine to the Virgin Mary in the heart of this Baroque-style church isn’t the only attraction. Beautiful frescos and the impressive pulpit also await you at the magnificent, twin-spired Mariatrost Basilica.
The twin-towered pilgrimage church stands proudly on a hill in the east of Graz. In 1714, the order of St. Paul commissioned (most probably) the architects Andreas and Johann Georg Stengg to erect the church.
More than 200 steps lead up Purberg to the major shrine of the Virgin Mariy in Graz - the pilgrimage church of Mariatrost. A curved Baroque façade and two huge towers flanked by the wings of a monastery in which - intermittently - up to the year 1996 monks were living.
Through the lantern in the dome, skylight gets into the church and brightens up the high altar with the late-Gothic madonna. The dress is Baroque. As is the altar itself. The grey marble was quarried immediately on Purberg. The marble side altars with thier impressive intarsia were donated by Styrian noble families.
The interior is characterized especially by the frescos painted by Lukas von Schram and Johann Baptist Scheidt. They glorify the Virgin Mary, also as a "helper on the road to victory". Which is underlined by a scene showing the Battle of Lepanto in which the Turks were defeated.
A gem of the church's furnishing is the pulpit. It was created by Veit Königer in 1779. The statue in the highest position on the canopy symbolizes faith. Expressive figures are reaching out for it, seeking help in the cross. Hope with an anchor and Charity with a heart represented on the pulpit itself complete the three Christian virtues.
In 1999 the pilgrimage church of Mariatrost was bestowed with the title Basilica by Pope John Paul II.
+++ By the way +++
Numerous legends have grown up around the founding of the shrine. Here's the most famous of them: Johann Maximilian von Wilferstorff, who owned a castle on Purberg, was given a Gothic, obviously not very precious madonna for his chapel by the monks of Rein Abbey. When the nobleman's daughter came down with a bad disease, she started praying for recovery to the madonna. Her prayers were answered, and the news of the miracle spread like wildfire. Mariatrost became a shrine attracting pilgrims seeking comfort and help even from Hungary and Croatia. So what difference does it make that Johann Maximilian von Wilferstorff supposedly did not have a daughter at all.