Worth a visit: Shrine of Our Lady of Absam

By Lucy Oliver

The picturesque city of Innsbruck is famed for its nearby ski slopes but for Catholics there is another sight worth seeing a short train ride away. The parish church of St Michael the Archangel in Absam has been a destination for pilgrims seeking healing ever since the apparition of Our Lady to a young girl, Rosina Buecher, in 1791.

One evening, Rosina looked out of her window and saw the image of a lady on the pane of glass. The village priest had the window removed and the image tested; it disappeared when submerged in water but later reappeared on the glass. The miraculous image was donated to the parish church where it can be venerated today on a separate side altar. Pope Benedict XVI had a special attachment to Our Lady of Absam, where his grandparents and parents were married.

Back in Innsbruck, the old centre boasts Gothic architecture unique to medieval Austria, not least the Golden Roof, formed of almost 3,000 gilded copper tiles. Other sites of interest are the Gothic Hofkirche and its imperial tombs and the 300-year-old St Anne’s Column on the central Maria-Theresien-Strasse. Of course, you must also visit a kaffeehaus and enjoy the leisurely Tyrolean tradition of coffee and cakes.