Before the Second World War the Pallottines wanted to build an educational establishment, keeping the sense of spirituality to encourage the laymen, Apostles themselves and furthermore the church. Not until 1949 did the opportunity arise to acquire a Grand Villa (built by a Greek diplomat, but due to the war in a pretty bad state). From 1950 onwards educational and spiritual exercises could begin.
Origin of the chapel
A group of women and men, from the Schoenstatt movement who lived by a spiritual and apostolic ethos (founded by the Pallotti Father Josef Kentenich), built the chapel of "The three wonderful mothers" in 1958/59. The original chapel can be found in Koblenz, Vallender; there are two other chapels of this kind in Vienna, (in the Queen of Freedom church, in Vienna’s 10th district and one other on Kahlenberg). As pilgrimages and spiritual exercises in this movement declined, one decided on the restructuring of the chapel, so that all groups and guests of the house should have priority access to the questions of life. The Schoenstatt movement from Upper Austria showed an interest in the interior of the chapel as they had ambitions to build or rather furnish another chapel in Linz (in the meantime one has been realised on Pöstlingberg).
Renovation of the chapel
"How do I begin to understand my life - is there a red thread through all the stages of life - what does the centre of my life, as well as the history of the world mean - can I expect a helping hand throughout life and death?"
Father Alfred Gruber SAC, rector of the house, meditated and designed his plan from the year 2000 on, based on these questions. His nephew Herbert Gruber organised the wooden furnishings from Tamsweg in Lungau. Prof. Bernhard Prähauser (born in 1921 in Hallein working actively in Lungau for many years) was employed to do the carvings and step by step the transformation took place.
There should be three steps
- We may live by this inspring message
- This message should be brought to the mind and celebrated
- From it, arises a dynamic of the mission for everyone (the light fitting by the exit)
1: Professor Prähauser envisioned the idea of the Phoenix from the flames as a sign for Christ’s resurrection. The tradition is well known by all civilized people, that the phoenix compiled a nest of medicinal herbs - he sat himself inside, set light to it and did not perish, but rather arose three days later much stronger and more beautiful than before.
We remember Jonah, three days in the whale, Lazarus, three days in the grave; the images of Christ himself: Incredible new things breaking open.
The disc in the background is the symbol for eternity, whilst the square represents humanity, whose stability grows from eternity. Inside the square, human life, birth, the grave and the resurrection are visible, linked together with the red thread of life: Even when the guideline of lifes path vanishes after all the ups and downs - it is led through resurrection to the centre, to eternity.
In the silhouettes on the white wall one can recognise three hands: Left beneath, the creator, who sends man on his circle of life; that awaits, after the descent to the grave and the revival of resurrection. Faith guides shadowy and superficially, not from behind the light, rather in a plethora of light and sustaining life. The phoenix can therefore be seen as symbol of new creation, as an inspiration for all time, regarded as the dynamic of the Holy Ghost.
2: Whoever opens this Christian and yet cruel message wants to - in the second stage - remember, celebrate and envision it: This occurs on the table beside the altar: Therefore based on the square, or rather our course of life, the seasons and direction of the wind, however the octagonal altar plate, typified in the architecture of the sky and the circle, rather eternal infinity. What is celebrated here can therefore connect the sky and the earth and kindred-spirit into an intense circle together.
3: In the background and celebration of a solid centre of life and at the same time dynamic development and a promise, to be redesigned in the remaining light, consequently arises (with a glance up at the light fitting) the mission for every one of us: The seven flames and gifts of the Holy Ghost, or seven sacraments, aim to strengthen us over the seven days of the week, inspire us and develop a wider horizon and future in Alpha and Omega. This incredible message sets powers free, conveys a deep feeling of security and does not shy away from sharing it with others.
To summarize, it can be said, that like the ancient desire of man and the message of creation, through to the resurrection and till the completion of life are united in a space together, that in a particularly, simple and clear way, the personal interpretation of life can be measured and strengthened.
The chapel can now be used for Services, Christenings, Weddings, Meditation etc. Guest of the house also take this message with them, that man rises daily from the flames, as, for a greater future, did the phoenix.