Schwarzsee chapel, “Maria zum Schnee”

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.

Description

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

Map

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