The Light of Bethlehem, an Austrian tradition...

"The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world."
~John 1:9

The tradition of the Light of Bethlehem started after the Two World Wars of the 20th century in order to remind the world that true peace comes from CHRIST, not from politics.

Each year since it's inception after WWII, one Austrian child is given an award for virtue and peacekeeping and is thereby chosen to fly to Bethlehem to get the flame from a candle from the Church of the Nativity, which marks the place where Jesus was born.

That child flies back to Vienna where emissaries from different parliaments receive the light and a complicated chain forms and goes to churches and shrines throughout Austria and even into other neighboring countries - and from family to family on horseback throughout the valleys and villages. 

People gather at their town churches and cemeteries, carrying their own candles or lanterns to receive and pass along the flame from the lantern that is brought to them on horseback.

Then, the light bearer reads a proclamation about Jesus being the true source of peace.

Afterwards, each family takes their lantern back to their home for the Christmas octave. Many in the town of Gaming put theirs by their front doors, and every grave in the local cemetery also has a lantern lit from the light of Bethlehem. 

We sisters put ours in our chapel next to baby Jesus in the manger under our altar and light the vigil candle next to the tabernacle from it.

We pray that these last few days of the Christmas season are blessed for each of you!
- Sr. Joan Paule Portenlanger, T.O.R.

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  1. What a beautiful tradition! Thank you for sharing! It is good to see my old friend Mary Kay/Sr. Joan Paule doing so well and so filled with joy in her vocation! I trust that your family is well, and I pray that God will continue to shower His blessings upon you and all whom you serve in your ministry. Love & prayers to you and all the sisters. May the blessings of the Christmas season reign in your heart always and radiate to all whom you encounter!

  2. Merry Christmas Sister! Hope you and the other sisters are doing good (tell Sr Faustina I said hi!). Hope the bubble coat is holding up to the Austrian winter over there. :-)


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