Heart of Bavaria

The visit of Pope John Paul II to Altötting took place on 18-19 November 1980. The Pope's first trip to Germany and his stay in Altötting were exceptional. The Kapellplatz was attended by 60,000 faithful who wanted to worship God. The Polish Pope, who adores Mary, has always felt a personal bond with the Bavarian pilgrimage city. During his visit, Pope John Paul II was accompanied by Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI. This memorable visit is a reminder: The Pope's tree planted by the Pope on Bruder-Konrad-Platz Square and a large bronze sculpture by Leo Mol from 1983 placed on the facade of the Congregation Hall.

For more than 1250 years Altötting has been the spiritual centre of Bavaria and for more than 500 years the most significant Marian pilgrimage site in Germany. Annually more than one million pilgrims and visitors come to Altötting to bow to the Black Madonna, a wooden statue of Our Lady. The chapel walkway is adorned with about 2,000 votive tablets from several centuries.

In the 17th century Bavarian prince electors and kings, including the Bavarian "fairy tale" King Ludwig II, began the tradition of burying their hearts in the chapel in decorated gold and silver urns.


Heiner Heine
Relics of the blood of Pope John Paul II donated by Pope Benedict XVI
Papal Linden tree on Bruder-Konrad-Platz in Altötting planted by Pope John Paul II (now the beginning of the bicycle trail dedicated to Pope Benedict XVI)

Johannes Strauß
The procession with the Black Madonna during Pope John Paul II's visit to Altötting in November 1980

Hildegard Pollety
Impressions from Pope John Paul II's visit to Altötting in November
Pope John Paul II, 18.11.1980 in Altötting, copyright Hilde Pollety130
Pope John Paul II celebrates a great service on the chapel square

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  • City Altötting
  • Country Germany