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St. Mary's Basilica in Absam

Powerful place in the Hall-Wattens region

The origins of the parish church St. Michael

Absam is an important place of pilgrimage known far beyond Tyrol. The parish church of St. Michael is famous for the miraculous image of Our Lady on a pane of glass exposed on the right side of the altar. The apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the young peasant girl, Rosina Buecher, in Absam on 17 January 1797 led to a steady increase in pilgrims.

The church is dedicated to the Archangel St. Michael. The first documentary evidence dates back to 1331. The original church was destroyed by Bavarian troops in 1413 but rebuilt between 1420 and 1440 as a three aisled late Gothic hall church. Medieval furnishings include a painted altar from 1470 and a late Gothic crucifix, the Fiegersche Kreuz from 1492.

In the 15th century the parish was moved to Hall in Tirol due to the importance of salt mining and the increasing population. Therefore the St. Michael’s church became a succursal church. The church was damaged during an earthquake in 1670. The tower had to be restored and the roof pyramid was replaced by a lantern. In the 18th century the church was converted to baroque style. The frescoes were made by the Austrian painter Josef Anton Zoller in 1779. During the 19th century several renovations were made. The roof material was replaced, the façade re-gothicised, the lantern covered with copper and the stepped gable and the vestibule were realised. The porch was created in 1898. The interior of the church was restored in 1976/77 whereas the exterior in 1988/89.

The natural power site Marienbasilika Absam

at a glance

  • miraculous image of Mary
  • most important place of pilgrimage in Tyrol
  • votive tablets
  • traditional cooking: Landgasthof Bogner, Kirchenwirt, Gasthof Ebner
  • monthly pilgrimage: every first Sunday of the month
  • souvenir shop
  • ideal place for a traditional church wedding

The decoration of the Basilica of St. Mary

Ostersonntag-Radiomesse-aus-der-Basilika-in-Absam

The pilgrimage church is a true art-historical treasure on both the outside and the inside. Please find out more about the basilica:

The west façade with its stepped gable determines the appearance of the village of Absam. Below the facade there is a mosaic of the Mother of Mercy of Absam made by the Tyrolean company Storch Mosaik. Above the ogival main portal, there is a ceramic papal coat of arms made by the Tyrolean artist Werner Richter in 2000, which represents the granted title of basilica by the Holy See.

The ceiling painting made by Austrian painter Josef Anton Zoller depicts the glory of God the Father and St. Michael. Above the organ loft in the west there are St. Rupert, the patron saint of salt mining, and St. Magdalene, who is the protector of the village. St. Rupert is depicted on a cloud with the bishop's insignia mitre and crosier and a salt barrel. Another fresco shows the village of Absam with the church and the mansions of Krippach and Melans, but also the Romedikirchl of Thaur.

The high altar piece from the middle of the 18th century is dedicated to the patron saint of the church, St. Michael the Archangel. It was probably made by the South Tyrolean painter Franz Sebald Unterberger (1706-1776).

The pane with the image of the Virgin Mary was installed on the right side altar in 1797.

A particularly interesting work of art is the so-called "Fiegerkreuz" from 1492, attached to the northern triumphal arch. It is carved from Swiss stone pine and was made by a master craftsman from the 2nd half of the 15th century. A special curiosity is the real human hair of the Jesus statue.

The white marble baptismal was made by the South Tyrolean artist Franz Gartner in 1885 and is decorated with evangelist symbols, the baptism of Christ and doves. The wooden cover has the shape of an octagonal pyramid in neo-Gothic style.

History of pilgrimage - the miraculous image

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For more than 200 years, pilgrims have come to Absam to present their petitions and thanks to the Blessed Mother Mary.

It was a time of great political unrest and warlike conflicts in Tyrol when a black and white face of a woman appeared on 17 January 1797 in the small window pane of the house of the farmer and miner Johann Bucher. According to tradition, the 18-year-old daughter Rosina was the first to notice it, but soon caused a great stir in and around Absam as an image of Mary.

The apparition was soon described as a miracle, therefore the responsible bishop set up a commission to examine the image. An attempt was made to wipe the picture down, but after a short time the picture reappeared. It was the people's wish to venerate the image of Mary, thus the picture was placed on the southern side altar of the parish church.

And still today, pilgrims from all over the world visit the parish church of Absam to pray to Mary, who took shape in a small pane of glass as no painter could ever have painted it more mysteriously.

The monthly pilgrimage takes place at 2:30 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month.

The pilgrimage church of Absam becomes a basilica

Absam Basilika und Bauernhof

On the 24th of June 2000, the Church of Absam was elevated to a basilica minor. This was done in recognition of the fact that Absam is the most important Marian pilgrimage site in Tyrol.

The Easter grave in the St. Mary's Basilica

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Every year on Maundy Thursday the Easter grave is erected, which remains until the Easter Vigil. The scenery of the grave was made around 1870 and coloured, water-filled glass balls frame the scene. On the left side of the burial chamber stands the prophet Isaiah and on the right side the prophet Jeremiah. On Good Friday and Holy Saturday, members of the Speckbacher Schützenkompanie (Tyrolean paramilitary organisation) stand guard at the Easter grave guard.

Courtyard of the Basilica of St. Mary and Lady Chapel

Marienvorplatz Absam

In the forecourt of the church there is a war memorial in the form of a soldier standing on a high pedestal with his rifle. The memorial commemorates the local soldiers fallen in both world wars. Four steel bells from the years 1920 - 1922, which were used during the two world wars, are placed around the monument.

The church’s forecourt is also known as Marienplatz and was redesigned in 2010 as a place for encounter. A cycle of 21 delicately coloured pictures by the local artist Jutta Katharina Kiechl embedded in the enclosure wall illustrate the prayer of the Angel of the Lord. In the former mortuary chapel, a glass altar by Steffi Fischler from Absam refers to the divine love of Jesus.

The votive tablet chapel and the sacristan's house next to the Basilica of St. Mary

Votiftafelkapelle Absam@eichinger.ch

The votive tablet chapel

The votive tablet chapel located to the south of the Basilica houses Tyrol’s largest collection of votive tablets, with over 400 images on display, which were left by the pilgrims in gratitude for some granted favour. The entrance of the chapel consists of a late Gothic ogee arch portal from the 16th century. Inside the chapel there is a Baroque altar with a crucifixion group. The interior was redesigned around 1800 and decorated with a ceiling fresco by the Tyrolean painter Alois Posch.

The house of the sacristan
The sacristan’s house is located south of the parish church. Its core dates back to the 15th century. The building has a half-hipped roof, an irregular façade structure and remarkable Gothic architectural details on both interiors and exteriors. The northern facade is decorated with a fountain and a ceramic relief of St. Michael by the Tyrolean sculptor Karl Obleitner (1962).

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