The Catholic Defender: Our Lady of Kevelaer Germany 1641
Kevelaer is a center of veneration and pilgrimage to Our Lady, Comforter of the Afflicted (also known as Our Lady of Consolation. The following story is the testimony and witness of a merchant named Hendrik Busman
To give the history of the Shrine of Our Lady of Kevelaer in Northwestern Germany, we must begin by mentioning another Marian Shrine—Maria Consolatrix Afflictorum of Luxemburg. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Luxemburg City is home to the original miraculous statue of Our Lady under this title. She is the Patroness of Luxemburg, and copies of the image are to be found in nearly every major church in this tiny country. It was a printed copy of this image that became the main feature of the Shrine at Kevelaer—the second most visited Marian Shrine in Germany, after that located in Altötting.
It was near Christmas in 1641, during the confusion and hardship of the Thirty Years War, when a simple merchant named Hendrick Busman heard a mysterious call, as he stopped to pray at a roadside crucifix near the village of Kevelaer on the way from Weeze to Geldern (an area near the Dutch border). Hendrick Busman made the following statement under oath on February 13, 1642:
I am married to Mechel Schrouse who is about 50 years old. We supported ourselves with a small shop and this obliged me to travel to different places quite often. On one such journey around Christmas 1641 I was walking from Weeze on the road which passes near Kevelaer. At that time there was a wayside crucifix there. At this spot I heard a voice which said, "Build a little chapel for Me here."
I was astonished and looked all round, but could see no one. I went on my way and took no more notice of the voice that first time. Seven or eight days later I came the same way and at the very same place I heard the same voice say the same words, for the second time. I heard the words, which came from the side of the crucifix, quite clearly.
This worried me considerably since I had very little money and lived frugally, and thought that because of this my wife would not agree to the building. However, I decided to save two or three coins daily and so gradually saved up the 100 Gilders necessary for the chapel.
A few days later I again went that way and heard the same voice and the same words, so I stood still for quite a while, fearing that I was the victim of some deception. As I saw no sign of this I decided to stick to my resolution.
After this, about a month before the Feast of Pentecost, my wife Mechel had a nocturnal vision of a great light, and in the light she saw the chapel and a picture of the Blessed Mother of God, as she had seen it shortly before in the hands of two soldiers.
These soldiers had brought two paper pictures of Our Lady of Luxemburg to hand over to the lieutenant of the Mackewitz Company. The soldiers tried to sell her one of these—or a similar one—for their own profit, but were unsuccessful as the price was too high for her. So the pictures were handed over to the lieutenant.
Since then I have managed to save up enough for the building of the chapel and I have found building materials with the willing help of the Parish Priest of Kevelaer. The building was completed during the week before the Church festival of Kevelaer, which falls on the Sunday before Pentecost.
During this time the lieutenant was released from prison. Mechel went to him and asked for one of the pictures, but he refused to sell it or give it to her, wondering why she was so eager to have it.
When Mechel explained why she wanted it so much, he immediately allowed her to choose one of the pictures. She brought it to me; and so I had a small board painted and I attached the picture to it so that it could be put into the little wayside shrine more easily.
The picture was first kept in honor in the Carmelite monastery in Geldern; then in the Capuchin monastery. Hendrick Busman continues:
Then the Capuchin Fathers and their congregation wanted to take the picture in a procession to Kevelaer. For various reasons this was not done, but instead the parish priest of Kevelaer fetched the picture without special ceremonies on the evening of Saturday, May 31, 1642. The next day he placed it in the little chapel (shrine) which I had built according to my wife’s description following her nocturnal vision.
The same day a large crowd of people journeyed to the chapel from Geldern and other villages round about. Several miracles also took place which have been recorded faithfully.
Everything I have said here actually happened as stated and is the real truth. I Hendrick Busman have taken an oath that this is so, in the full knowledge of the consequences of the vision.