Sacred Heart Sunday
South Tyrol has been lighting ‘Sacred Heart Fires‘ every year since 1796 on the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, and in doing so the local population continues to renew a solemn vow.
The custom of the Sacred Heart Fires was started on the initiative of the Abbot of Stams, who was one of the highest representatives of the people in the year 1796. When the terrible news arrived that Napoleon’s French troups were to march on Tyrol from Milan, a war council was set up, culminating in the Abbot’s suggestion that they should seek God’s assistance in the matter.
A decision was made in the name of the people to promise to celebrate the Sacred Heart with a High Mass and sermons should the Good Lord stand by Tyrol. Clearly, this worked and led to the famous freedom fighter, Andreas Hofer, bringing about a renewal of this vow with a great celebration after the Tyrolean forces’ victory on Berg Isel in 1809. At the same time, this day was declared a regular holiday.
Still today the fires of Sacred Heart Sunday burn not just in Tyrol, but also in South Tyrol, and may be seen on the mountainsides for miles around. Huge bonfires are also set blaze in the villages and towns. The festival is traditionally accompanied by saluting gunshots after mass and a procession. Sacred Heart Sunday is a particularly atmospheric experience for locals and visitors alike.
This year at the 25th june!