For centuries, the Mariazell Basilica has been a place of piece and hope. Thousands of pilgrims from all over Europe come to Mariazell every year to ask for help or to say thanks. For many years, the Basilica, an object of high cultural value which is famous beyond the Austrian borders, has been in danger of falling into ruins. In 1994, Superior Karl Schauer OSB and Dr. Christian Konrad founded a board of trustees called "Mariazell braucht Ihre Hilfe!" - synonymous with "Mariazell Needs Your Help!"
The board of trustees set themselves the goal to stop the Basilica's dilapidation and have the Basilica renovated until its 850th anniversary in 2007. The Head of the board of trustees is Advocate General Dr. Christian Konrad. Until his death in 2005, the board of trustees was under the auspices of Federal President Dr. Thomas Klestil. After 2005, the project of the renovation of the Basilica received patronage from Dr. Christoph Cardinal Schönborn.
In the course of many fund raising and charity events, the board of trustees asked for help with this time-consuming and cost-intensive major project. The reactions were overwhelming: the Austrian population as well as many Austrian companies actively supported the efforts of the board of trustees. Without this generous help over many years the realization of such a century project would not have been possible. Besides the board of trustees, the association "Friends of the Mariazell Basilica," under the direction of President General Karl Majcen, have been committed to the renovation of the Basilica for years. In the following years, the latter association will be taking care of raising funding for the maintenance of the Basilica. After 14 years of hard work, the Mariazell Basilica looks like its good new "old" self.
The Renovations - an Overview
In the course of the years, countless renovations took place in and around the Mariazell Basilika. The following list gives some though not all objects of renovation:
- the roof of the Basilica
- the windows
- the bells
- the presbytery and the high altar of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach
- the vestry and the pilgrims' chapel
- the Marian Column
- the Chapel of Grace and the famous Grace Altar
- the pulpit
- the side chapels and the altars in the side chapels; the historical confessionals
- the organs (the organ on the western gallery; the organs at the sides; Installment of an organ in the presbytery)
- stucco and frescoes in the nave and the dome
- the staircases to the southern and the northern tower
- the treasure chamber
- the chamber of relics
- the votive pictures
- electrical system
- the church doors
- the façade
- the Gothic middle tower and the Baroque side towers
- the courtyards incl. light and sound installations
- the spiritual house
Additionally, not far away from the Basilica, a modern accessible pilgrims' house was built in the course of the renovation: here, pilgrims can get refreshments and store their luggage. All levels of the Basilica are accessible: a handicapped friendly elevator in the northern tower connects the exhibit area on the attic floor and the ground floor of the Basilica. An underground tunnel has been connecting the Basilica with the spiritual house since for a short time. In the course of the building of necessary store rooms, the vestry and the paraments' chamber was extended.
The costs of the renovation of the basilica amount to about 29 million Euro.
General Secretary of the Board of Trustees "Mariazell Needs Your Help!"