All About Mary

Traveling Statues of Mary

– Answered by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

Q: Why does a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary go from home to home in some communities?

A: The origin of this custom is the so-called shelter seeking, that is the holy family on their way to Bethlehem, seeking a shelter where they could stay for the night, and where Mary could give birth to Jesus. Out of the recollection of this event grew the medieval Frauentragen (carrying of Our Lady) in Germany, and later the so called Posada (house, dwelling, inn) in Hispanic countries. The custom is a 'spiritual compensation' for the innkeeper's refusal to invite the Holy Family into his inn. Depending on the various cultures, the custom is practiced during Advent, sometimes from the very beginning on, sometimes starting with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, or--for the Posada--during the last week before Christmas. On Christmas, the statue of Our Lady, which was carried from home to home in procession and usually stays for one to two days in each home, is returned to the Church. This typical Advent custom is practiced in different contexts, too. Special statues (Fatima, Our Lady of the Millennium) are carried from town to town, from parish to parish, from home to home to celebrate a special event or to pray for a special intention.

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