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Intangible cultural heritage

Traditions, knoweldge, craftsmanship techniques  
Photo: © UNESCO/James Muriuki

The Ram Procession to Obermauern
Social practices in Tyrol, inscribed 2015

For this annually occurring procession, two separate processions from the communities of Prägraten and Virgen come together in Obermauern. One of these two communities brings along a white ram festively adorned with colourful ribbons and flowers. The entire party then makes for the pilgrimage chapel of Maria Schnee, where the ram is first led around the altar three times. This procession is combined with various rituals such as tying a lock of the ram’s fur to the paschal candle.

A votive painting in the pilgrimage chapel of Maria Schnee in Obermauern depicts a ram fighting with Death as a personified force, a ram procession, and a praying peasant couple with a ram. An inscription on the painting quotes the following vow: “Zu der Pestzat nach Labant verlobt von den Gemeinden Firgen Bregraten 1635” [Promised during the plague epidemic in Lavant by the communities of Virgen and Prägraten in 1635]. The traditional ram procession therefore originates from the people’s gratitude for being saved from the plague, and it remains an important component of the local identity to this day. While the procession originally helped the communities to overcome the traumatic experiences caused by epidemics, it now serves mainly to reinforce the identity of the village community. And following the Holy Mass and performance of the rituals, the ram itself is raffled off.


Siegmund Weiskopf
Virgentalstraße 81
9972 Virgen



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