The Loreto Chapel

Much like Georg Paprion, a pious and wealthy innkeper, Johann Klettenhammer too was a devout pilgrim. While Paprion built the Außerkirchl Chapel in San Candido/Innichen, his contemporary from Prato Drava/Winnebach constructed a chapel to honour the shrine of Marian pilgrimage in Loreto, Italy.
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Today, the chapel – an impressive symbol of the devotion of the Baroque population – is still referred to as Klettenhammer Chapel by most locals. It is all that is left after the popular Klettenheim Inn had to make way for the railroad built in 1870 and can be found where the main road through the valley branches off towards Prato Drava/Winnebach. In reference to the inn, the nearby bridge crossing the river Drava/Drau is also still known as Klettenhammer Bridge.
In the 17th century, the small Italian town of Loreto near Ancona must already have been a popular place of pilgrimage, since copies of the Chapel of Grace in its Basilica della Santa Casa can be found in several places in Austria. Local lore recounts that Angelic beings miraculously carried the house in which the Holy Family lived first from Nazareth to Tersatto (now Trsat in Croatia) and then on to Loreto. As official village records show, up until the 19th century the rural population commemorated the event celebrating church services on 10 December.
Upon his return from a pilgrimage to Loreto where he had acquired a copy of the miraculous image venerated there, Johann Klettenhammer had a chapel built in the style of the Loreto Chapel of Grace next to his inn – at the time a popular way for affluent Christians to invest their capital.
The chapel was consecrated in 1650. In 1761, it was so severely affected by a mudslide coming from two nearby streams that it had to be moved to a slightly more elevated location. In 1719, 1755, 1763, 1882 and 1965, large amounts of mud and debris once again surged against the walls of the chapel. The fact that it continued to defy and withstand the raging force of the elements was viewed as a miracle by the population, and soon an increasing amount of people in distress began to visit the chapel and deposit votive offerings. The fresco on the outside wall shows the legend of the angels flying the Holy House, the birthplace of Mary, to Loreto.