Sacred Heart Fires

Every year in June the South Tyrolean summits, also in the area of Lake Caldaro, are illuminated by the traditional mountain fires.

On the first Sunday after the Feast of Corpus Christi in June, every year fires are lit on the South Tyrolean peaks and Alpine pastures. These mountain fires remember the pledge given to the Heart of Jesus and have their origins in the Tyrolean freedom fights: in fact, in 1796 Napoleon’s troops were trying to invade the country, so the Tyrolean representatives promised to entrust the country to the “Sacred Heart of Jesus” if they would be saved.

Surprisingly, the Tyrolean troops won the battles, and from that day on every 3rd Sunday after Pentecost fires in form of Christian symbols have been lit on the Tyrolean mountains, called “Herz-Jesu-Feuer” in German language. Before the famous Bergisel battle against the French and the Bavarians in 1809, the Tyrolean freedom fighter Andreas Hofer remembered and renewed the vow. Once again the Tyroleans won, and the Sacred Heart Sunday became a high holiday.

The custom of the mountain fires, however, dates back to ancient times and the solstice bonfires, or St. John’s Eve Fires. They were mentioned for the first time in written documents in the 12th century. Still today the Sacred Heart weekend is celebrated with the traditional fires, lit on the peaks also around Caldaro and Termeno, such as Mt. Penegal, Mt. Mendola and Mt. Macaion.

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