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The Church of St. Francis



The Siusi Alp is regarded as the largest plateau in Europe. It offers a great many opportunities for hiking, skiing or just marvellous sightseeing. This was the obvious place to erect a sign to show that God, who loves us, is committed to our lives. This visible sign is the new St. Francis Church. The reason why St. Francis was chosen to be the patron of this church is almost obvious: Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226) saw signs of God everywhere in nature. He calls the sun, moon, stars, water, fire, air and wind, Brother and Sister. The Earth, who nourishes us, he calls Mother. He invites all created beings to praise God, the Creator and Father. As the most important creations, we human beings are especially invited to glorify God with our voices and with our whole lives. During your stay on the Siusi Alp, let your eyes, ears and heart be opened to this beauty and vastness, so that you may be filled with wonder, thankfulness and peace. This scripture verse should help you feel thankful when you contemplate this St. Francis Church: God is in our midst; in HIM may everyone know security.

The Kastelruth Parish wishes you new strength and joy

The architect chose the DOVE as the basic architectural design. The main space represents a dove’s body, while the western and eastern entrances resemble spread wings. The tower pointing upwards is the dove’s beak. The dove symbolises the Holy Spirit, and was important to St. Francis as a dove of peace. Everyone who spends a little while in this church or worships God with others should sense some of the peace that God wants to give us. The church faces EAST, like many churches have done since the Middle Ages. The sun rises in the east. We turn to Christ, the risen Son.


Foto: Fabian Dalpiaz

WEST ENTRANCE: A valuable old restored wayside cross from the Siusi Alp hangs on the wall in the foyer. In front of the San Damiano cross, Francis of Assisi often prayed the following: “Lord, shine a light in the darkness of my heart … Help me to know your plans for me …” St. Francis immersed himself in the sufferings of Jesus so much that towards the end of his life, the Stigmata of Jesus broke out on his body. The cross also invites us to thank Jesus for His love and to trust God in all sorrow like He did.

EAST ENTRANCE: (includes wheelchair access) The alcoves in the wall (originally intended for the Stations of the Cross) use pictures and the text of St. Francis’ Song of the Sun to invite us to praise, thank and trust God. These alcoves are used for example by groups and families – an invitation for us to be “creative” ourselves. ST. FRANCIS statue in the vestibule: Plain, simple, quiet, discreet and immersed in God, St. Francis stands with a dove as if he wants to give each visitor courage. “In Christ, God gives you peace.”

ANIMAL FOOTPRINTS ON THE FLOOR lead into the church through this eastern entrance and, on the side, forwards into the chancel. They are DEER tracks. Psalm 42 says, “As the deer pants for fresh water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” We are invited with all our longing to follow these tracks in order to listen to God’s Word read from the ambo.




THE SANCTUARY: The space signifies a round church and is a section of the whole Church of Christ. The slightly curved benches and the side walls that narrow towards the front accentuate the altar and point towards the centre (of this imaginary round church), which lies outside. This centre is God. Our lives have a goal. We are on our way to a final and everlasting meeting with God. “Our hearts are troubled until they find peace in Thee, O God.” (St. Augustine)

The STAINED-GLASS WINDOW behind the altar, which has different lighting depending on the sun’s position, reminds us with its blue colour (ocean) and many looping lines of the Creator God, who is with us in the ups and downs of our lives. The CROSS shows us that Jesus has won the victory over suffering and death; He is risen. The cross remains a symbol of His victory. “He humbled himself and was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and everything in heaven, on the earth and under the earth should confess with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2: 8-12) The ALTAR is the table around which Jesus gathers us to eat with us. Jesus gives Himself to us as the Bread of Life. He is the cornerstone. Baptised and confirmed, we are called to be living stones of His people. Various stones are cast in the altar plate. On the floor in front of the altar, the Tau, the blessing symbol of St. Francis, has been carved into a small cover. Beneath this is hidden a capsule with the relics (small piece of bone of St. Francis).

The TABERNACLE (= tent, dwelling) is the place where the hosts are kept. This symbol, in front of which burns the Eternal Light, calls upon us to worship God through Jesus Christ, to thank Him, to remain with Him in prayer and to kneel down before Him in his honour. The fine concrete altar, ambo and tabernacle convey the simplicity, sobriety and humility of St. Francis. They intend to show that his message is capital importance to life. From the back door of the vestry other animal paw prints cover the entire area from the altar up to the ambo, to commemorate the WOLF of Gubbio which was tamed by St. Francis. We can also become affected by the kind of behaviour often associated with wolves (inconsideration, cruelty, selfishness, insincerity). In everything we do we are called upon (in the ambo) to surrender ourselves to the word of God and to gain strength (at the altar) with the bread of life. On the floor close to the ambo, bird footprints can also be seen. These remind us of St. Francis' sermon to the birds: Birds should praise God with their song. The stained glass window to the west (on the choir’s side) shows us that instead of conflict between “inside” and “outside”, there should rather be union. We should bring into the church the joys and sorrows that we experience on the outside (in our everyday lives). What we celebrate together or experience in silent prayer on the inside (in church), should be the light, strength and joy in our lives on the outside.

The 12 CROSSES on the side walls commemorate the 12 apostles, the 12 pillars of the church.



The BELL TOWER houses three bells (made Grassmayr - Innsbruck). They are rung everyday to remind us of God and to call us to come celebrate together. The first bell (approx. 380 kg, Tone “b”), bears the name and image of St. Francis with the invitation: Laudato sii, o mi Signore – To all praise, Oh my Lord. The second bell (approx. 260 kg, Tone “c”) bears the name of the gracious and believing maidservant Notburga (1265-1313 in Eben am Achensee), with the symbols of bread (for the poor) and rake and sickle (for labour) with this important message: The world has only been loaned to us. The third bell (approx. 185 kg, Tone “d”) bears the name of the Apostle James (Ways of St. James crisscross Europe to the Santiago de Compostela cathedral in northern Spain) with the symbols of a book (the Bible), staff (pilgrimage) and shell (hearing), along with the encouragement: Listen – Discover – Be Amazed. Every church is a SIGN showing us that God dwells in our midst – we are safe in His great hands. Each church becomes a living witness when people open up to God’s wonderful message and fill this space with life by means of prayer and celebration. St. Francis’ Church was consecrated by the Very Rev. Franz Pixner on 25 December 2008. Since then, we have held seasonal services here on Sundays and holidays.

The ceremonial consecration of the church was carried out on 20 September 2009 by the Bishop of our Bolzano-Bressanone diocese, Dr Karl Golser.



Builder of this St. Francis Church:
Parish of the Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, Kastelruth. Construction period: Autumn 2007- Christmas 2008.
Architect: Dr Walter Dietel, Schlanders.
Contributing artists: Franz and David Messner: Altar, ambo, tabernacle, lights …
Werner Kofler: Altar window with cross.
Eric Perathoner: St. Francis


  • Mr Walter Urthaler for the foundation
  • The construction committee chaired by Walter Sattler
  • Various institutions, businesspeople, groups and individuals for their joint financing: The local government of Kastelruth, the Autonomous Province of South Tyrol, the Italian Episcopal Conference, Raiffeisenkasse Kastelruth, South Tyrol Savings Bank, hotels/guesthouses of the Siusi Alp and many individuals
  • Prof. Eberhard Kenntner from Rheinbach (Germany) for the gift of the old wayside cross.

Send your donations to Account No.:
IBAN: IT 32 S 08056 23100 000300233978; SWIFT-BIC: RZSBIT21011 Siusi Alp – South Tyrol, St. Francis Church Parish of the Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, Kastelruth