Already in earlier times, the Way of St James led from Flüeli-Ranft via the Brünig pass and through the Bernese Oberland into the land of Fribourg. On the way through the Bernese Oberland, the pilgrims were accommodated in the Augustinian monastery of Interlaken and for the continuation of their trip they received the much-coveted Pilgrim’s batz, a money gift. In the retreat of Saint Beatus above Lake Thun, itself a place of pilgrimage, they prayed for good health and a good continuation of their pilgrimage. They found a friendly welcome, also repose and time for prayer in the churches along the route that are now over 1000 years old, such as the Augustinian collegiate church in Amsoldingen, where the basilica and crypt still stand today. Many a pilgrim also found accommodation with the poor mountain farmers along the way who shared the little they had with the pilgrims. Still today, many pilgrims choose this route through the wonderful mountain landscape with snow-clad peaks reaching 4000m. They journey along the shores of the deep-blue lakes of Brienz and Thun with a unique backdrop of mountains, and roaring waterfalls. They experience God’s mighty creation in good and in bad weather in close proximity. The high mountains, the glaciers, the green Alpine pastures, but also the lakes invite to quiet contemplation and meditation. Precisely in this quiet and impressing landscape, many pilgrims find a way to themselves and to God. Along the way they meet with “rustic”, indigenous locals with whom they can strike up a conversation and from whom they learn something about their modest way of life in the mountains, and also of their worries concerning the preservation of the mountain villages and an unspoilt landscape. Pilgrims will also meet with holidaymakers from the most diverse countries on earth who visit the tourism and excursion destinations in the mountains, mostly for a very short time. Pilgrims who as “gentle tourists” want to experience the beauty of nature in calmness and with all senses are in agreeable contrast to the mass who often consume the mountain experience in a pre-planned and hectic way.
The brief route descriptions have been compiled and checked in voluntary work by helpers and association members, after inspection trips and based on the situation encountered then. The accuracy of the contents and especially accordance with the official Way of St James signposting, also in the sense of a product liability, cannot be guaranteed by the association “jakobsweg.ch” and the authors. Pilgrims are therefore asked to please follow the official markings for the “Jakobsweg”, and to advise us of eventual discrepancies. We thank you.
Texts: Winfried Erbach, Joe Weber and Klaus Augustiny (manuscript reader) Translated from German by Hans Bamert Pictures: Wolfgang Hörer, Winfried Erbach, various others.