Our Lady Star of the Sea, still adored
The statue of Mary known as the Star of the Sea was donated to the Friars Minor about 1474. The wooden statue of mother and child, probably German, dates from the beginning of the 15th century and is 110 centimeters high. About 1869 it was provided with the current polychrome.
The Friars Minor were ardent worshippers of Mary and her statue came to be the center of a lively devotion by the people of Maastricht, allegedly after some miraculous healings and answered prayers. Worshippers made, according to the Spanish fashion of that time, several wide cone-shaped robes for mother and child.
In 1639 the Franciscans were expelled from the city by the troops of the army of the Dutch Republic and the first heyday of the cult came to an end. Until 1837 Franciscans and statue stayed in several places, at first outside and later in Maastricht. Shortly before 1700 the title ‘Star of the Sea’ (‘Stella Maris’) is mentioned for the first time.
In 1837 the statue was placed in the Basilica of Our Lady, first in the church itself and from 1903 in the Merode Chapel, a building extension from the 15th century. Piere Cuypers, a well-known architect, led the reconstruction of the chapel and, specifically for the statue, a neo-Gothic altar was designed. The name ‘Merode Chapel’ was changed into the ‘Star of the Sea Chapel’. Nowadays the statue is still there.
From the beginning of the 20th century the worship of Our Lady Star of the Sea boomed again. Today she is still subject of massive adoration, expressed for instance by several festivities throughout the year, by the Brotherhood Star of the Sea and by Star of the Sea Prayers.
© photos: Bea and Dick Hoeks-De Laat, 2007
Read more about Our Lady Star of the Sea (in Dutch) or about the project Places of Pilgrimage