Day 30 – Celebrate the Real Presence of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, Amen!

Rietz to Brennbichl, 30Km

Hotel Auderer, 76 euros

You can’t have a Pilgrimage without a touch of religion and as we’re all going to experience the phenomenal Oberammergau Passion Play on Sunday, today is a good opportunity for a warm up. Brush up your Bible knowledge and dust down your theology books: it’s Corpus Christi, or should I say, “the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ”, and yet another Austrian national holiday.

My day started with an agreeable walk from Rietz to Stams. There wasn’t a soul around; you’d think the population had been vaporised overnight. I looked in wonder as the Cistercian Abbey, founded in 1273, appeared. Naturally I couldn’t resist a look inside. The basilica was impressive and that’s an understatement. I sat at the back taking it all in. Suddenly I was deafened by the mighty organ, followed by the Choir tuning up. Next, all the lights came on and the interior was transformed. The candles were lit and the incense wafted around. And then the people arrived, mostly dressed in their traditional clothes. Giant banners were carried in. That’s when I realised it was the feast of Corpus Christi.

As recently as 2001, 73% of Austria’s population was Catholic but that number has since fallen to 57%. However, people love a good feast day and today everyone was Catholic again, even if they’d struggle to explain what is being celebrated.

I set off from the Abbey as I had a lot of walking ahead of me. The rain fell and the temperature dropped. Thunder storms were predicted and there is also a warning for extreme high temperatures on Sunday and Monday. My body doesn’t know what’s going on.

As I approached Silz, I thought I heard the thunder but it was only the canons firing on the hillside. A few people were standing by the church sheltering from the rain. Everyone else was in the procession. The policeman closed the street, there was a drum roll and the procession arrived: marching bands, holy banners and huge statues carried aloft, into the church.

On I walked and the next village was Haiming. By now the Mass was over and the whole town was celebrating the feast day in the Square. A band was playing Austrian favourites, the beer was flowing and the sausages were grilling away. The rain didn’t dampen spirits and I joined in the festivities. It was that or no lunch.

In some ways, Austria continues to surprise me. Perhaps in Vienna, young people go about their lives without reference to the religious calendar but in the rest of the country these occasions are observed with all reverence of countless generations

Tonight I’m staying at another marvellous guest house. Everyone is so kind and helpful. I’ve eaten the best Austrian food (cheese dumplings – two statins tomorrow) and chocolate pancakes, another national favourite. Such a contrast to last night.

Pylon decorators
Approaching Stams Abbey
Stams Abbey
The basilica in Stams
Church in Stams
Procession in Silz
Silz Procession short clip 1
Silz Procession short clip 2
Festivities underway in Haiming
Cows behind high voltage fence
Roppen, just before Brennbichl.

4 comments on “Day 30 – Celebrate the Real Presence of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, Amen!

  1. Hi Tim, I always feel there is a certain joy in happening upon unexpected festivities. I am pleased you were able to enjoy the food too. Stams Abbey is stunning.

    • All the Abbeys and churches are incredible. Just 6 more public holidays this year…

  2. Tassie Kaz

    I had to google what a ‘statin’ is but I still have more concerns about your fibre intake… 😄
    Glad you overcame your lurgy so quickly & are back to your normal daily walking.
    What a beautiful landscape for a slow journey.
    I wonder over time if the quirks of Austria will bring a smile to your face
    or that sort of groan…you know the one… 😇

    • We are at the mercy of hotels and restaurants for nutrition but those places rarely prioritise nutrition. I buy fruit when possible but it’s not easy to find nor to buy individual pieces. Long distance walking isn’t easy, as you know!

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