Altotting, Germany, Sep 11, 2006 (CNA) - The Marian Shrine of Altötting, one of Bavaria’s most famous pilgrimage sites, was an appropriate place for the second Mass celebrated by the Pope Benedict XVI on his trip home.  Mary, the Mother of God and “woman of prayer,” would be the subject of the New Testament readings as well as the homily of the Holy Father.

The Shrine, which was created in 680 AD, is most famous now for the “Black” Madonna, a statue last visited by Pope Benedict with his brother, Fr. Georg Ratzinger, on a private pilgrimage before his Pontifical election in 2005.  Since the addition of the statue sometime around 1330, soot from thousands of candles burned before the image has stained her head a dark color earning the sculpture the “black” moniker.

The very small town of Altötting, located a mere 100 km from Munich, swelled with well over 35,000 Catholics wishing to have the rare opportunity of attending a mass celebrated by the Bishop of Rome.  Though the venue allowed for much smaller crowds than the initial Munich Mass, the streets of the town were filled to capacity on a beautiful sunny day
This small town is famous for the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of the Miraculous Image), of one of the most visited shrines in Germany. This is a tiny octagonal chapel which keeps a venerated

by grace of God
von Gottes Gnaden