Alpine Church Services

The close links between church life and everyday life in Appenzell Innerrhoden are reflected in the celebration of the Catholic feast days of Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption and the traditional alpine church services.

The alpine church feasts in Plattenbödeli and Bollenwees, the Feast of Mary of the Snow on Meglisalp, the masses at the pilgrimage church in Ahorn, the commemoration of Brother Klaus on Seealp and the Feast of St. James on Kronberg are attended not just by herdsmen and their families but also by many devout mountain hikers. The services are held out in the open. One of the highpoints of the year is the Feast of the Guardian Angel in the well-known Wildkirchli Cave Chapel.

The subsequent convivial get-togethers in the mountain inns, normally accompanied by music, dancing and singing, are equally part of the feast day.

The Innerrhoden Alpstein massif and the hills and valleys at its feet are dotted with many chapels, mountain crosses and wayside shrines. The construction of the first mountain shrines date back to the 17th century when the people in the Catholic half-canton felt they needed to make Catholicism visible to the neighbouring Protestants who had «fallen away from the true faith». However, the majority of the 50 little churches, chapels and shrines are associated with the rise of tourism.

The availability of church services and devotions in the mountains enabled not only the alpine herdsmen but also keen hikers to attend Sunday mass.

Regular rosary devotions are held at some of the small shrines. The worship of Our Lady plays a major role in Appenzell Innerrhoden.

In addition to the summit crosses and wayside shrines, there are also numerous Christian memorials to deceased herdsmen and hikers who have perished in accidents. Each of these signs has its own – often sorrowful – history.


In the various Chapels of the Alpstein massif


On Sundays and public holidays during summer