Luxembourg was founded in 963 when Siegfried, Count of Ardennes, acquired the ruins of an old Roman fort. This castle, located on a rocky crag, was progressively enlarged and reinforced over the years until it became, in the 19th century, one of the most powerful fortresses of Europe.
Luxembourg remained an immediate county of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire until 1354. After this date its history is more eventful. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg belonged to the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs; then was annexed by King Louis XIV (France); later it was integrated to the Austrian Netherlands. An under-developed agricultural country during most of 19th century, a fifth of its population emigrated to the United States between 1841 and 1891.
Luxembourg's independence was recognized by the Second Treaty of London on May 11, 1867.
The first Marian shrine was established in Echternach, a fact proven by a historic document stating that the Abbess of Oeren offered a chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity, the Mother of God, and the Apostles Peter and Paul in 697.
From the 11th to the 16th century, devotion to Mary spread tremendously. The Cistercians consecrated the Abbey of Orval to the Virgin, the Dominicans introduced the practice of the Rosary.
Love of Mary is so rooted in the people, humble and mighty, that Mary, bearing the title of "Consoler of the Afflicted," was proclaimed the Patroness of the capital on October 10, 1666, then Patroness of all Luxembourg in 1678.
Resounding miraculous cures were obtained during religious processions. The Archbishop of Treviri led some investigations and recognized several of these as authentic miracles, notably in 1639, 1640, and 1648.
Eventually, a grand pilgrimage took on national importance and contributed to the forming of the identity of that nation.
Pope John Paul II visited Hungary on May 16, 1985, calling the people to seek again the wisdom of Christ. "Through the Virgin Mary, your Mother with an immaculate heart, we pray: help us to discover the treasures of wisdom hidden in You."
Attilio GALLI, Madre della Chiesa dei Cinque continenti, Ed. Segno, Udine, 1997.