Tracing the contemporary period

During the 1914-1918 war the front was very close to Vieil-Armand and Sudel. The Germans placed batteries in Thierenbach which the French artillery bombed in December 1915, January 1916 and March 1918. The residents were evacuated in January 1916 and the Virgin found refuge first at Niederentzen and then at Eichhoffen before returning after the end of hostilities in October 1919 to its church which had undergone some provisional repairs. Canon Alfred Beyer would then completely restore the buildings and in 1932 construct a new bell tower in the onion-shaped neo-baroque style.

The day after the Strasbourg Eucharistic Congress, Monday 22nd July 1935, the Apostolic Nuncio, Mgr Maglione, crowned the Virgin after a Solemn High Mass celebrated by Cardinal Verdier, Archbishop of Paris, in the company of around 20 bishops and mitred abbots with the Bishop of Metz having given the homily. The celebration was followed by a procession to the church. A procession to Jungholtz and back with solemn blessing was presided over by the Abbot of Oelenberg in the course of the afternoon and brought the great day of celebration to a close. In 1936 Pope Pius XI raised the sanctuary of Thierenbach to the rank of Minor Basilica.

During the 1939-1945 war, despite its proximity to the front, Thierenbach was spared. In 1946 the Confessions Chapel was built and from 1950 onwards the new pilgrims’ gallery in neo-Roman style would bring back memories of the monastic cloister of former times. Canon Joseph Christen would make certain alterations in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. But it is the present rector, Canon Gerard Sifferlen, who was to initiate and see through the restoration of the entire basilica. Mr Louis Wiederkehr, artist and painter from Soultz, would prove to be the principal craftsman of the building’s interior restoration, giving it back its baroque character with a good deal of taste and finesse.

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