Out of the miracle of June 14, 1738, when tears were seen on the face of the Scourged Saviour, there rapidly developed a pilgrimage of unexpected proportions.
In his 1779 booklet "Wahrer Ursprung und Fortgang der Wallfahrt des Gegeißelten Heilands auf der Wies" ("The True Origin and Continuation of the Pilgrimage to the Scourged Saviour in the Wies"), the Pilgrimage Priest of the Wies Church, Father Benno Schröfl, wrote: "What more can I say about this flow of grace, when all of Europe is streaming through: pilgrims from Petersburg in Russia, Göteborg in Sweden, Amsterdam in Holland, from Copenhagen in Denmark, from Christiansburg (i.e. Oslo) in Norway, from Nimes in France, from Cadiz in Spain, not to mention all the German provinces and neighboring kingdoms?". (Finkenstaedt, Th.u.H.: Die Wieswallfahrt, Regensburg 1981, p. 150). As the tiny chapel built in 1740 (still standing by the parking lot) was, despite a wooden addition, obviously far too small for the masses of pilgrims, the nearby Steingaden monastery decided that a church must be built.
The pilgrimage has remained alive up to the present. Among the visitors from all over the world you will also find people in silent prayer. The traditional pilgrimages in the local and surrounding areas have also experienced a profound revival during the past years. Even now new pilgrimages arise, such as a pilgrimage in the vicinity of Weilheim/Schongau, which each year brings about 1000 young people to the Wies.
Perfected Rococo in Harmony with Important Theological Themes
In the Wies Church rococo art reached a unique perfection. This masterpiece, created by the brothers Dominikus and Johann Baptist Zimmermann of Wessobrunn, was given international recognition a few years ago, when it was inscribed by UNESCO, the culture organization of the U.N., as a cultural site on the World Heritage List.
In spite of the lightness and grace typical of rococo style, the Wies Church has in fact a deep meditative quality coming from the important theological themes which are treated there. Spiritual center of the church is the Scourged Saviour, Jesus Christ, God's Son, who, giving his life for all humankind, offers himself as a sacrifice to God the Father. Out of this sacrifice is born redemption, blessing and the glory of heaven. This theology is summed up in the prayer which comes after the Consecration of bread and wine in the Mass, in which the center of our Christian belief is expressed: "We announce your death, o Lord, we praise your Ressurection until you come in glory". One sees this theology in the figure of the Scourged Saviour (the Lamb of God), and in the main ceiling fresco (the resurrected Christ, who will come again, sitting on the rainbow; the judgement throne; and the door to Eternal Life.)
People from all over the world come to the Wies. Many search for sense in their life and orientation. This church has the power, by its artistic expression and spiritual message, to give them an answer. Bringing into play all of a person's senses, it allows mind and soul to experience the "Good News of the Wies".
Its architect, Dominikus Zimmermann, almost 70, could not bear to leave this church, his most beautiful and complete work. Thus, he built himself a house almost at its door, where he lived until his death. In thankfulness for the happy completion of the church, he painted a votive tablet showing the pious master architect kneeling before the Scourged Saviour. He signed it: "D.Z. Ex voto A. 1757".
Every pilgrim and visitor to the Wies Church is rewarded by the magnificence and harmony of the wonderful song Zimmermann called forth in building the Wies Church. When the visitor, in encountering the resounding four-tone chord of art, theology, light and music, experiences the total beauty of the Wies, he can experience what the builder of the church, Abbot Marianus II Mayer, expressed:
"Hoc loco habitat fortuna, hic quiescit cor." (In this place abideth happiness, here the heart findeth peace)
We wish with all our hearts that many who visit our "beautiful Wies" may experience this happiness and find inner peace.