St. Vincent Pilgrimage Church | Accidentally Wes Anderson

St. Vincent Pilgrimage Church

Accidentally Wes Anderson - St. Vincent Pilgrimage Church Enlarge

Heiligenblut am Grosglockner, Austria | C.1491

Photo Credit: Johannes Höhn

At the foot of Großglockner, the tallest mountain in Austria, the majestic St. Vincent Pilgrimage Church presides over the valley. Located in Heiligenblut am Großglockner, a municipality within the central eastern Alps, the church not only has both an epic location and an epic origin story. 

According to legend, a Danish knight called Briccius obtained a flask of Holy Blood in 914 AD from the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. On his way home across the Alps, an avalanche hit and buried Briccius who, facing death, hid the flask inside an open wound in his calf. When the snow had settled, local peasants found his corpse at a place where three ears of wheat broke through the snow. These ears of wheat are depicted in the Heiligenblut coat of arms.

The parish church is dedicated to St. Vincent of Saragossa, with earliest records of the church dating back to 1253. The first pilgrimage to the “Heiligen Bluet” (the holy blood) was documented in 1273. 

In 1390, the community decided to turn the relatively small church into a much grander monument, marking the beginning of an almost 100-year-long construction period. The new pilgrimage church was consecrated on November 1st, 1491. It has been able to accommodate the continuously growing number of pilgrims and visitors ever since.

The church houses a late-Gothic high winged altarpiece that dates back to 1520, along with the crypt and tombstone of St. Briccius, and the “Iron Book” containing the names of those who have perished on Großglockner. The legend of Briccious is visually narrated in a series of paintings inside the church, and the Holy Blood is today kept in a locked box called a “sacrament house.”

Know more? Share with us!

Partner