Sacred Heart of Jesus Fires
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Sunday is a very special day in South Tyrol. On the third Sunday after Pentecost, open fires are lit on all of the major mountain ranges of the region. The tradition of lighting fires on the mountains goes back to pre-Christian times. Ritual fires were lit on hilltops and mountains especially at the time of the summer solstice. In Christian times the solstice and the Feast of St. John were very close and in many places the “St. John’s fire” was lit. The Feast of the Sacred Heart is also celebrated at the end of June (on the 3rd Sunday after Whitsun) and the fire on the mountains gradually became renamed.
Today the fires across the mountains are prepared by societies or circles of friends and are lit in places where they are visible from afar. The wood is often carried for hours up to the mountain tops. Some fires are built in the form of a cross, a heart or the initials for Jesus IHS or INRI.