Sacred Heart Fires

The Sacred Heart Fire is a tradition that has its origins in the 19th century and it is still in use all over Tyrol.

When in 1796 Napoleonic troops came closer and closer, Tyrol was made ready for war, and representatives met up in Bolzano (South Tyrol) in order to discuss how to proceed. This is when the Abbot Sebastian Stöckl suggested to commit Tyrol to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in other words to trust in God. From June 1, 1796, this feast day was celebrated with a solemn religious service. Only 80 years after also fires were made.

The ritual to make fires on the mountains dates back to a pre-Christian time, in other words to the cult of primitive races. They attached great importance to the sun, which was expressed by simulating the sun by making fires. Fires were also made in order to put to flight plagues.

In other periods of time people used to make fires in compliment to Saints. In Tyrol another significance was attached to the fires, which were widely celebrated as Sacred Heart Fires, which still use to take place on the second Sunday after Corpus Christi. Fires are often arranged in the form of a heart, crosses or the inscription INRI or IHS. On the mountains surrounding Innsbruck e.g., there are fires all over and this event is organised by local mountaineering associations.

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