The “Maria zum Schnee” chapel near the Schwarzsee gondola station is a gem. It stands on the shore of the Schwarzsee (2,552 m), whose clear dark waters beautifully reflect the chapel when the air is still.
According to legend, a statue of the Mother of God stood at this place even before the “Maria zum Schnee” chapel was built. The small chapel goes back to a promise made by two inhabitants of Zermatt who had become hopelessly lost in thick fog on the Theodul Glacier. They were saved, and subsequently erected a prayer house at the location of the wayside shrine. It is thought that the chapel was built in the early-18th century. The chapel, dedicated to “Maria zum Schnee” (Our Lady of the Snows), soon became a popular place of pilgrimage. On the patron saint’s feast day on 5 August, locals and visitors flock to Schwarzsee to celebrate mass in the open air. Early documents state that the inhabitants of Zermatt would visit the Mother of God in a procession in early summer to pray for rain in times of drought. Unhappy wives also sought consolation and help in prayer before the image of the Mother of God.
A popular place of pilgrimage to this day Walkers and locals often call in to the small chapel for a moment of peace and to light a candle. The celebrations on the patron saint’s feast day on 5 August are highly popular.
If chapel is closed: key is available from the Restaurant Schwarzsee (tel. +41 27 967 2263)
Mountaineers who have successfully climbed the Matterhorn often stop at the chapel to give thanks
View of the Hörnligrat ridge on the Matterhorn. In July and August, climbers on the Matterhorn can be seen with binoculars
Hörnli hut visible
Chapel closed in winter
Reading “Zermatter Sagen und Legenden”, by Karl Lehner, published by Verlag Zap, Brig, new edition 1982, no ISBN number