The Catholic Church in Luxembourg - an historical overview
Already at a very early date, in an evangelization wave, which had spread from the Christian-Roman city of Trier (Germany) in the 4th century, the regions in and around the present territory of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg were gained to Christianity. From the 6th-7th centuries in which the course of a Christian consolidation took place, territorial parishes or mother-parishes emerged. Subsequent divisions resulted in the existing parish system of today. The small settlement of Echternach played a prominent role as a base for the Frisian mission of the monk and Apostle of the people from England Willibrord (658-739). Echternach became an important Benedictine Abbey, whose Basilica still preserves the remains of Saint Willibrord; He is revered as one of the two national saint patron of Luxembourg during the annual Dancing Procession on the day of Pentecost by many pilgrims from Luxembourg and abroad (the other national saint patron is Our Lady, “Consoler of the Afflicted”).
Characteristic of Catholicism in the medieval county or duchy of Luxembourg, which had no bishop’s seat, was the dominant influence of male or female religious communities like Benedictines, Franciscans or Dominicans in pastoral care, spirituality and culture. The characteristic feature of this church is a strong Marian character, which has a veneration in Our Lady “Consoler of the Afflicted” that has begun in the 17th century and has its climax to this day in the annually Mother of God double octave after Easter.
After having been divided between six and seven neighboring bishops for nearly 1500 years, the Luxembourgian church was established in 1840 by the establishment of an apostolic vicariate. In 1870 she promoted to a diocese and in 1988 to an archdiocese. It coincides territorially with the country of Luxembourg. In 1839, the Luxembourgian state, which was threatened by a number of political crises and neighboring territories (Belgium, France, Prussia, Nazi Germany), was hold together by the Catholic Church as a religious, ideological unity clasp, which still encompasses almost the whole population with its patriotic and popular integration role. In the period of modern secularization, its almost exclusive influence power is lost, but Catholicism is still an indispensable component within existing pluralism of opinions, since it has remained close to the different social classes and societies. The relationship between the State and the Church is friendly and is based on mutual autonomy and cooperation.
The Catholic Church in the Grand Duchy sought to meet the modern requirements with its 4th Diocesan Synod (1969-1981) and thus made a breakthrough to today’s world and culture with which it is in a constructive dialogue. To date, this synod is an essential reference for Luxembourgian Catholics and bears fruit on various levels as “aggiornamento” of ecclesiastical life and practice. A dwindling religiosity, on the other hand, is currently the greatest challenge for the Catholic Church in Luxembourg.
An European vocation is given to this church not only by its osmosis to a state firmly integrated in Europe with European institutions and officials, but also by the trilingualism and the central position of Luxembourg within the EU, by the active relationship to numerous supranational Church Institutions.
The Bishops of Luxembourg
|Fotos: Luxemburger Wort|