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Churches and Chapels in Zermatt Part 9

Winkelmatten chapel or Zur Heiligen Familie is a gem, located at the end of the village in the Winkelmatten quarter. Many couples choose this chapel for their marriage. Built in 1607, the chapel is a smaller scale copy of the old village church and probably late reparation by the people of Zermatt to the residents of Winkelmatten. The story goes that the hamlet of Winkelmatten was almost given the honor of hosting the parish church. But things worked out differently. The crafty people of Zermatt are said to have moved the tools that were already standing on the construction site into the village during the night and, the next day, told the nonplussed inhabitants of Winkelmatten that this must be a supernatural sign and an expression of divine will. The showpiece of the chapel is the baroque altar, carved from Swiss stone pine by Anton Sigristen in 1730. The Holy Family stands in the center of the retable. A shell opens above each of the statues of Joseph and Mary, above the Child Jesus are angel heads and a crown, from which a graceful Madonna emerges. Two twisted pillars wreathed with acanthus garlands from a fame for the Holy Family on both sides. The pinnacle of the richly glided altar consists of clouds, rays of light and ornaments. Two angels open the curtains of a baldachin, revealing the Holy Spirit as a dove with nimbus and the round window behind. An old custom has made this chapel into a popular place of pilgrimage for young couples. For Carnival, the young men of Zermatt would each seek out a young woman with whom to dance and celebrate the “old Carnival”. If they went to Winkelmatten together on the feast day of St.Joseph, their mutual obligations were over. But those who walked to Winkelmatten together once again on Easter Sunday were considered to be all but married. There is a playground for children to play nearby and this is one of the most popular chapel to get married and get baptized.

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Zum See chapel or Heilige Barbara is the newest of Zermatt’s chapel and is dedicated to St.Barbara. The small chapel is located by the hamlet of Zum See, whose name means “by the lake”, but there is no lake here, just lush of alpine pastures and small patches of forest. The hamlet of Zum See, at about 1750 meters, has been inhabited for around eight months a year since time immemorial, yet it was the only hamlet that had no chapel. Its inhabitants had long wanted to erect a house of God here and in 1962, the residents declared themselves ready to make their assistance and their funds available. Construction began in 1963, the chapel was consecrated on July 5th 1964, and donated to the parish of Zermatt free of debt by the working group. The chapel is dedicated to St.Barbara, said to protect the faithful from storms and sudden death. It is a block structure in the style of chapels from the 17th to 18th centuries, with a recessed, somewhat extended choir. The chapel was built to a design by the Basel architect Hermann Dietrich. The stained glass windows are by the Balais artist Paul Monnier. The Virgin Mary, St.Catherine and St.Rita are depicted in yellow-red-brown tones on the left side, and St.Joseph, St.Wendelin and St.Augustine in blue-green colors on the right. A simple granite table serves as the altar. A painting of the chapel’s patron saint hangs from the back wall. Two wrought iron grilles separate the choir from the sacristy behind. This chapel is another excellent place to hike with hiking trails nearby. It is absolutely peaceful and beautiful with wide variety of alpine flowers and at night, wildlife such as roe deer and red deer can be spotted.