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History Maria Radna

Maria Radna, the most significant place of pilgrimage in south-eastern Europe

1325 In Lipova (Lippa), Carol Robert of Anjou, King of Hungary, builds a monastery and a church dedicated to his uncle, Saint Louis of Toulouse.

1440 The first documented reference. The place name derives from the slavic word „ruda“, translated as „metal“.

1520 A devotional widow builds the first chapel on the hill of Radna. 

1551 Beginning of Turkish rule until 1716

1552 With the conquest of Timisoara, the major part of Hungary falls under Ottoman rule

1626 Bosnian padres of the Province to the Holy Cross accompanied their fellow countrymen, who settled as merchants all over the Ottoman Empire, even to Radna, where they were allowed to practice pastoral welfare under the tacit consent of the Turks. 

1642 Father Andrija Stipančić, Franciscan padre at Radna, manages to receive an „Embre“ (a decree) by the Sultan for the renovation of his chapel after paying a high bribe and having walked the long and exhausting distance by foot to Constantinopel and back.

1668 The chapel of the Franciscan friars receives an icon from the workshop of the typographer Remondini (of Bassano del Grappa, Vicenza province, northern Italy), depicting the Madonna in her scapular. This Image of Mercy is being worshiped to this day.

1695 Turkish soldiers set fire to the Franciscan chapel. The church burns in a sea of flames – religious believers find the paper printed Image of Mercy undamaged among the charred remains. According to another legend, the hoof of a Turkish soldier´s horse, riding up the hill to the church, got sunk into a stone, whereupon he could not continue his ride. The stone with the hoofmark and the painting on the right hand side wall of the church draw impressive attention thereon.

1699 The peace treaty of Karlowitz turns the Mures into a border river: Lippa and the Banat south of the Mures remain Turkish, while Radna north of the river was again assigned to the Kingdom of Hungaria. Banat was only liberated in October of 1716 after the occupation of Timisoara by Prince Eugene of Savoy.

1709 While the black death raged in Arad, the inhabitants vowed to arrange a pilgrimage to Maria Radna as a sign of gratitude for the termination and salvation from this terrible plague.

1722 Based upon testimonies by villagers, the chronicler of the monastery reports on his principal pages of occurences for which no explanation could be found, like flares of light at night. Upon his arrival in Radna the church was already being visited by individual pilgrims as well as processions.  

1723 A new and larger church is built.

1727 The construction history of today´s monastery begins as the west-wing had been built. After the number of clergy had risen considerably in the meantime, the south-wing was added between 1743 and 1747.

1750 On the occasion of a solemn church service for the Birth of the Virgin Mary, the pilgrimage was officially granted after a rigorous screening procedure.

1756 At Pentecost on July 7,  the foundation stone for a new church in Maria Radna was laid since the old house of prayer soon proved to be too small. This church is still standing today.

1767 On June 9, once again at Pentecost, Bishop Franz Anton Leopold Count Engl of Wagrain personally and with due ceremony takes the miraculous icon to the beautiful new church, which he had inaugurated the day before. It is most significant that sermons had been held in various languages from the early morning: German, Hungarian, Illyrian, Croatian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Armenian. More than 12.000 pilgrims from different nations attended. Almost five thousand believers went to receive the sacrament.

1768 Emperor Joseph II. visits the monastery and the Mother of Mercy. Tradition has it that he is supposed to have said: If I were not Emperor in Vienna, I would like to be guardian in Radna!

1771 The Image of Mercy receives valuable ornamentation. The large silver frame, in which the icon is still being admired today, was brought from Vienna from the hands of the official goldsmith to the imperial court, Joseph Moser, who created the magnificent piece of art in 1769/71

1820 Alexander Rudnay de Rudna, Prince Primate (of the Kingdom of Hungary), consecrated the church and bestowed two golden crowns upon the image of mercy. Cardinal Archbishop Rudnay remained bonded to the place of mercy for the rest of his life, bequeathing his heart to Maria Radna, where it is being kept even today close to the icon.

1822 So many people came to Radna, that the chronicler had never seen as many to the day. Even Romanian orthodox christians were among them.

1832 At Pentecost 25.000 pilgrims overwhelmed the place of mercy; another 20.000 arrived upon the Birth of the Virgin Mary and Holy Name of Mary. During Pentecost of 1844, 22 Father Confessors were serving around the clock; they heard more than 13.000 confessions.

1860 The numbers (of visitors) sharply rose and soon reached never before known levels. People came from afar: hardly any community from along the river Tisza was missing, even Transylvania was well represented, also the cities of Erlau/Eger, Waizen and Budapest. The greek-catholic Romanians from Lugoj and Zăbrani were permanent guests of the Mother of Mercy and celebrated their sermons in Byzantine Rite. Nearly every village in Banat and every nation of the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire had its own day of pilgrimage, some of them even multiple ones.

1895 On the occasion of celebrating 200 years since the recording of the first miracle at Maria Radna, the church was embellished with a new high altar made of Carrara marble.

1905 The present-day organ was created in the work shop of Leopold Wegenstein from Timisoara. 26 hand stops with 1580 organ pipes are assigned to two manuals and pedal. The organ has tubular-pneumatic action. Its appearance had been inspired by a drawing of the famous Parisian organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

1911 The two church towers are being raised by 30 meters under the control of Father Augustinus Prieszter OFM to a total height of 67 meters. He also renews the Stations of the Cross on the path of pilgrimage behind the church.

1917 The organ-pipes and church bells in Radna had to be handed over for the machinery of war. World War I together with the disintegration of the Austrian Empire, dividing Banat into three parts, the largest of which including Maria Radna was allocated to Romania, did not result in harming the place of pilgrimage seriously. Owing to the trojan efforts of Bishop Pacha the loss of territory was compensated with the increase in numbers of pilgrims. Radna more than ever became a sanctuary of prayer, spiritual reformation and awakening. Radna experienced her greatest days, her high era! Bishop Pacha was a permanent pilgrim, father  confessor, preacher and made time for personal conversations.

1935 More than 73.000 pilgims, the highest number in the history of Maria Radna, made pilgrimages together with Diocesan Bishop Dr. h.c. Augustin Pacha to Maria Radna, many of them on foot. 

1944 The fascistic national socialist movement triggered a collapse all the more surprisingly and more painfully, plummeting the country completely into disaster. After Romania had changed sides to the Allied Forces on August 23, 1944, the country came under communist influence following the Russian occupation.

1948 Father Ernst Harnisch OFM is the new guardian of the monastery and place of pilgrimage Maria Radna. Even though he too was imprisoned and spent three years in jail for high treason, he secured the conduct of the place of mercy for almost half a century.

1950 Bishop Pacha, Canons and Clergy were convicted to long prison sentences during communist propaganda trials. Pilgrimages were prohibited, the monastery disappropriated and diverted from its intended use. Only one single Father with one or two Friars were left behind in the few remaining chambers of the monastery. 

1951 After the communist regime banned  religious orders (1949), all Franciscan clergy in Romania were centered at Maria Radna under especially hard conditions. Subsequently the clergy was dispersed all over the country.

1964 Bishop Dr. Adalbert Boros, who had been consecrated in secrecy, was released after 13 years of imprisonment in communist jails. His first path from prison took him straight to the Virgin Mother of Radna. 

1971 Neither the swarm of pilgrims nor the willingness to make sacrificial offerings failed during communist times, so that the Church of Mercy could be renovated from the interior and the exterior. Furthermore repairs as well as renovation work of the chapels, the Stations of the Cross and paths could be carried out.

1990 Catholic religious orders are again being approved and brought into action in Romania.  

1992 Pope John Paul II bestows the title „Basilica Minor“ to the church of pilgrimage of Maria Radna. On this occasion and as a sign of gratitude towards the Virgin Mary of Maria Radna protecting the church and diocese during the difficult times of the communist regime, Dr. Adalbert Boros, the Titular Archbishop, donates a new altar for the Basilica of Maria Radna.

2003 Due to the shortage of a new clergymen, the Franciscans leave the monastery of Maria Radna on October 1,  after a century long presence. As from that point in time the complete ecclesiastical life of the place of pilgrimage is entrusted to the clergy of the diocese. Canon Andreas Reinholz is the current priest.

2013 The whole estate, classified as a category A historical building, is undergoing a complete renovation in the framework of an EU-aided project. With Maria Radna as a flagship, the project aims at developing cultural tourism and the economic infrastructure in the vicinity and at positioning the church and monastery into the touristic cycle.

2015 Inauguration on August 2, with a pilgrimage on the Portiuncula day, in the presence of numerous national and international dignitaries from church and state.