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Churches and Chapels in Zermatt Part 6

Ranft Chapel is dedicated to St.Nicholas of Flue, also known as Brother Klaus who is one of Switzerland’s best known patron saints. The small Ranft chapel was built in 1961 with a beautiful statue adorns for its interior. It was ceremoniously consecrated by the parish priest, Joseph Zurbriggen, in 1961 on the feast of Christ the King in the presence of residents. A candlelit procession takes place every year on September 25th, the feast of St.Nicholas of Flue, to the Ranft chapel, where Holy Mass is then celebrated. The event draws parishioners from Tasch, Randa and Zermatt alike.

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Ried Howeten chapel or Heilige Luzia lies somewhat hidden in the upper pastures of Zermatt at an altitude of 1760 meters. An excursion to Ried and its chapel is well worth while with the dramatic views of the village and the Matterhorn. The hamlet of Ried built its chapel at a location more precisely described by its field name of Howeten. In the old Zermatt dialect “Howeten” roughly means, “inferior pasture land”. The chapel was built in 1693, the year can be found over the entrance and on the ceiling, and its dedicated to St.Lucia. The chapel is a small block structure with recessed choir and a brick bell tower in the form of a roof turret over the entrance. The bell that originally hung in the tower disappeared, and was replaced by a new one, cast in Aarau, during renovation in 1988. The tie beam that separates the modest choir from the nave shows the names of the builders, Stefan Biner, Hans Perren, Hans Zurniwen and Moritz Perren. Up until 1950s, there would be a procession up to the chapel at Howeten on Whit Friday. The custom dates back to a vow made by the inhabitants of Zermatt after some spirits were banished around 1667. This occasion was the first time that reference was made to a chapel here which was apparently a predecessor of the existing building. St.Lucia, Patron saint of the chapel, is not honored anywhere else in the Upper Valais. It is probable that the Capuchin Father Luzian Artho, the priest at the time, brought her veneration to Zermatt. At this cozy little chapel, you can view the beautiful Matterhorn and at night, you may be able to spot roe deer.

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Riffelalp chapel or Herz Jesu is an elegant chapel that stands alone high above Zermatt at 2222 meters. The private chapel of the Seiler family of hotelier welcomes visitors to mass on Saturdays during the summer. The chapel of Riffelalp was built by Alexander Seiler and his wife Catharine Seiler-Cathrein in 1886, and was dedicated on July 3rd, 1887. It is still in the private ownership of the Seiler family and is only partly accessible. This rather handsome house of God with its recessed choir, small bell tower and small canopy over the entrance is whitewashed, and is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Two commemorative plaques honoring the founders with dedications in French are attached to the exterior wall left and right of the entrance doors. The chapel has various neo-Gothic features such as the altar, the pointed arched windows and the choir arch. The main figure on the altar, a Sacred Heart of Jesus statue, is flanked by statues of the Mother of God and presumably St.Rita. Two stained-glass windows showing the Mother of God and St.Joseph allow light into the choir. The windows in the nave are made of clear glass. Decorations and commemorative plaques for various members of the Seiler family adorn the walls. This beautiful chapel is popular for chapel weddings and it is about 15 minutes walk from Riffelalp station of the Gornergrat Bahn cog railway. This is a nice place to stop by while on hiking.