Experience Bavaria > Active Vacations > Hiking > Tours and Pilgrimage Routes > Benediktweg

Hiking in BavariaBenediktweg (Benedikt Trail)


Place of Birth of Pope Benedict XVI in Marktl a. InnFollowing the footsteps of Pope Benedict XVI, there is much to be discovered. The area between the Inn, the Salzach and the Alps is not only highlighted by the biographical episodes of the Holy Father’s childhood and youth.

The Inn-Salzach region is characterized by rich climatic, topographic and ecological features, as well as being one of the oldest cultural landscapes of Central Europe.

Thanks to its geographic situation, it has long been predestined as a bridge between north and south, east and west and for millennia has served as a habitat for man; offering a material, as well as a spiritual, home. Even in pre-Christian times, the Celts and Romans settled here and it was one of the first areas where Christianity took root, thus making the region a nucleus of Christianization.

During the Carolingian era the royal palatinate at Altötting represented a political and administrative, as well as a spiritual, center that resulted in the founding of numerous monasteries. The Benedictines, the Cistercians, the Franciscans and the Augustinians are present in the proud monasteries and splendid churches that dot the Benedict Trail.

Some, it seems, felt closer to heaven here in this terra benedicta, ‘blessed land’, than anywhere else. In any case, high-born nobility such as Irmingard, a king’s daughter and founder of Frauenchiemsee Convent could receive the honor of the altar here, in the same manner as a farmer’s son from Parzham, Brother Konrad, became gatekeeper at Altötting’s Capuchin monastery.

The Benedictine dictum "ora et labora" -  "pray and work", has left a lasting impression on the region between the rivers Inn and Salzach. Monks and nuns greatly contributed to the development of agriculture and handicrafts. The lay public also adopted the duality of industriousness and devoutness as a spiritual path.

It is not surprising that, alongside the abundance of monastic activities, an equally diverse and extensive pilgrimage network developed. It testifies in particular to the deep adoration of the Mother of God and Patrona Bavariae at sites such as Marienberg, Mühlberg, Ettendorf, Ising, Pürten, Heiligenstatt and, naturally, the Chapel of Grace at Altötting: the Benedict Trail links many sites of popular devotion in Bavaria.

One learns from notion of a pilgrimage that the statio, the ‘station’ and the commotio, the ‘movement’, the ‘path’, are connected. In the same way the Benedict Trail is not simply a series of historic, cultural and tourist attractions. In between one encounters the fields, meadows, woods, hills and lakes that – more than man’s handiwork – have made these landscapes a terra benedicta.

This region's landscape is not parkland, but ancient farming land. Even today, agriculture plays a major role in the region’s economy. Local farmers have aim to harmonize peasant traditions with innovative concepts for the maintenance and further development of the rural economy.

The union of ecology and economy is a tough challenge which, especially today, affords great efforts. The fact that Pope Benedict is also very much aware of this is shown by his views on the responsibility to the Creation, expressed in his Pentecost sermon in 2002, delivered on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his bishopric: “The Creation was not given to us to exploit, but for us to guard with reverence and to develop as God’s garden, in which people can live.” Where else, other than in his homeland with its old tradition of promoting a symbiosis between man and nature, is this picture of ‘God’s garden’ more obvious?

More information on: www.benediktweg.info

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