Posted On 1. December 2011 In Jubilee 2014

The Pilgrim MTA once again: Palau (Palaos)

Agathe Hug. Palau? – Palau! -Palau? – “Hasi, Hasi, Palau,” this is the exclamation heard during the Carnival in Paderborn, Germany. It is a mixture of Paderborn and heLAU. But you are right; it cannot be that an article about Palau (Palaos) appears on ? Meanwhile, let us begin anew: Let us play a game. 1. Where is Palau (Palaos) on the map? 2. Where did the Pilgrim MTA land on that diminutive point in the ocean? And, 3. How did the Mother of God arrive there? Surely, it was not by donkey from Bethlehem.


The majority of the Europeans would probably have trouble in giving a spontaneous description of where Palaos is located, unless they are scuba divers, or they practice kayaking. This particular insular territory and its marine life are a popular vacation destination for people who practice these kinds of sports. It belongs to the Chelbacheb Islands, the Palaos Rock Islands; they are also a natural marine reserve for the protection of nature above and below the water, where transit is only permitted in designated areas.

The Spanish and Germans should know them well, since Spain sold the Palaos Islands to Germany in 1899, when Pope Leo XIII ceded the Carolina Islands to them, and Palaos be longs, to them. From the present perspective, this was a very strange process. During World War I, Japan declared war on Germany, and then they fought on this group of islands. Since Germany lost the war, Japan assumed control of these islands. Japan lost World War II against the United States; therefore, Palaos became a fidei-commissum of the United States. Palaos became independent on October 1, 1994.

The largest shells in the world

What I think about when I hear the name, Palaos, (besides the shout “Hasi, Hasi, Palau”) is that it faces the coast of the natural reserve, mentioned above, where the largest, gigantic clams (Tridacna) in the world are found; they shine with velvety lips in every color of the rainbow. They can be as long as 140 cm. and have a corporal mass of up to 500 kilos. This shell is called the assassin shell, and scuba divers are warned not to step on the clam, since they will not be able to remove their foot from it – but this belongs to the realm of myths. The largest natural wonder in Palaos is a limited lake in which thousands of jellyfish the size of a tennis ball go and come with the rhythm of the sun rays. It is the lake of jellyfish. Moreover, it is said that there are only two kinds of weather in Palaos: sunshine or rain – and one is drenched in both; with the sun on the inside out and from the rain from the outside in.

The Palaos Islands make up the state of Palaos, in addition to some remote islands to the extreme southeast. The seven islands of the Palaos Islands have 356 islands, of which only eleven are inhabited. The majority of the islands are coral reefs which are found a few meters above sea level and in part, they will be deeper if the sea level rises during the coming years.

They are many small worlds

Palaos is located to the north of the equator and north of Australia. The Palaos Islands are also found to the north of Papua New Guinea. We remember that Papua New Guinea is located somewhat near New Caledonia, and it was New Caledonia’s turn to be remembered in the Original Shrine on October 29th.

It is located approximately eight-kilometers east of the Philippines, close to the latitude at the height of the southern point of India, but more to the East.

Palaos belongs to Micronesia. The nine Micronesian Islands are Guam, 1,300 kilometers away (the only Mariana Island in the south) the Republic of Palaos (Balaos), the Mariana Islands of the North, the Marshall, and Kiribat Islands, in addition to the four groups of islands (near Palaos and Carolina): Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, which together form the Federation States of Micronesia. Each of these islands has its culture, language, and history.

The Micronesian Islands are very isolated, not only because of geographic distance; but also culturally. The traditional lifestyles of the indigenous people are very different; they are impregnated by their diverse history, geographic position, and by the geologic composition of its respective groups of islands.

What else can be said?

The Capuchin monks also arrived with the Germans. They tried to establish Catholicism among the inhabitants. According to the census of 2000, approximately 42% identified themselves as Catholic, 23% professed to be Protestant, 9% are Modeknegei, 1% is Jehovah Witness, and 1% is Mormon.

Modeknegei is a belief that emerged in an odd way: It is one of the monotheist religions. It was founded at the beginning of the 20th century and it has extended throughout Palaos. It combines Christian and native beliefs.

It could be said that it arose from a religious vacuum: Under the German, colonial government it searched for a traditional religion and the culture was more and more restricted. The indigenous clergy was suppressed and the majority was deported because of the suspicion of inciting resistance. When the war began in 1914, when Japan occupied the islands, all the Germans were expelled, including the resident missionaries on the islands. The religious vacuum occurred between 1915 and 1919. Tamadad de Chol became the new religious leader. He combined elements of traditional and Christian beliefs. As a result, there is only one God, Jesús Ngirchomekuul Kristo, who is the same person with different names of the deities of the ancient people. The objective was unity and to pacify the divided districts of the groups of islands and at the same the preservation of the indigenous traditions. However, Modeknegei quickly caused a conflict with the Japanese colonial administration, which planned to modernize Palaos according to a Japanese model. In spite of this, this new religion has remained until the present time.

And how did Schoenstatt arrive here?

Schoenstatt and Palaos? – The question of how the Pilgrim MTA landed here is not clear at present. Perhaps, someone knows…we would be happy to know about it!


Celina M. Garza: Spanish/English translation – Melissa Peña-Janknegt: English edit