The “Bernhard von Aosta” chapel on the Gornergrat is one of Zermatt’s most visited places of worship. Visitors from all over the world stop to light a candle and enjoy the soothing tranquillity of this mountain sanctuary.
After the Kulmhotel Gornergrat opened at the end of the 19th century, Sunday mass was read in the hotel’s dining room during the summer. The bishop expressed the wish for a chapel, and in 1950 construction took place. The chapel is owned by the municipality, and stands at an altitude of nearly 3,100 m.
Bernard, Maurice and Theodule The chapel is a block structure with recessed choir, double-offset roof and bell tower as a roof turret over the entrance. It is dedicated to St Bernard. The exterior surface is rough, grey plasterwork, matching the environment. In fact, the chapel is easily overseen. It lies on the path between the hotel and the mountain railway station. Anyone taking the lift from the latter to the hotel could miss the chapel altogether.
The interior has a wooden ceiling and floor of stone slabs. The windows are without stained glass; a confessional box stands on the right of the entrance. The altarpiece consists of relief-style carved wooden figures: in the centre, St Bernard of Aosta; on the left, St Maurice (patron saint of Valais); and on the right, St Theodule. A crown of alpine flowers forms the culmination of the altarpiece. The tabernacle is decorated with grapevines; the altar table is made of stone slabs with a cross.
Memorial candles: several thousand are lit every year
Photo subject: the simple decoration on the wooden ceiling