On July 2, 1844, Father Christopher Bernsmeyer, OFM, pastor of nearby St. Clement Church, gathered a small group of women in Our Lady of Grace Chapel (Telgte, Germany) as they officially entered a community he founded: Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. The central image in the chapel is a pieta (a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the crucified body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture).
Pieta of Telgte history
A legend asserts that a boy saw a vision of Mary in a tree at the entrance to Telgte and heard her say “Bring my image to the people.” He carved the statue of poplar wood around 1370, and the cost was assumed by Ludeke Dynninck, Luebeck. Before Our Lady of Grace Chapel was built in the 1650s, the pieta was displayed in St. Clement’s Church cemetery. (In 1991, the pieta was scheduled to be refurbished. During an examination, it was discovered that relics from Jerusalem had been placed, date unknown, in the heads of Mary and Jesus.)
The Hospital Sisters have a devotion to Our Sorrowful Mother that originates from their foundation day. In 1944, 100 years after the foundation in Telgte, the Sisters dedicated a shrine to Our Sorrowful Mother in St. Francis of Assisi Church and on July 2, 1994, a replica of the Pieta of Telgte was displayed at St. Francis Convent. The pieta was a gift from the Generalate on the 150th anniversary of the founding of the International Congregation.
Prayer before the Pieta of Telgte
Holy Mother of the Lord,
For centuries people have come to Telgte
to express their concerns,
their requests and their gratitude.
We want to meet you on the paths
of our everyday lives and to learn from you.
We want to learn how to find God in our lives.
You take all our sorrows upon yourself
and place them before the Lord, your Son.
Help us to wait patiently and humbly,
as you have been in the hour of affliction.
Bless us! Show us Jesus,
the blessed fruit of your womb.
Pray for us sinners, now
and at the hour of our death.