st kathrein hafling winter
st kathrein hafling winter

St. Catherine Church

The little St. Catherine Church with the Haflinger horses is one of the most famous South Tyrolean photo motives.

The little Romanesque mountain church of St. Catherine - "St. Kathrein Kirche" in German, "Chiesa di Santa Caterina" in Italian - is visible from afar. It is located on a hill in Avelengo, more precisely in the same-named district called Santa Caterina. It is one of the sights of the village where the Haflinger horses come from, and a famous photo scene of South Tyrol. This little church, like many others, is said to have been built on the site of a prehistoric cult site. Presumably there was already in the 12th century a place of worship here, which burned down.

After the reconstruction, it was rebuilt in 1452 in Gothic style and again consecrated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The massive four-storey tower dates back to this period. Inside, the little St. Catherine Church has a Gothic apse from the 13th century, well-preserved frescoes from the 14th century showing the life of St. Catherine and a late Gothic Tyrolean winged altar from the 15th century. The two Baroque figures on the triumphal arch show St. Florian and St. Roch.

The St. Catherine Church is also subject of a legend: Two giants helped to procure stones for the construction of the church. At the same time they had promised to help also with the construction of the church in Lavena. But they had only one hammer, so they had to share it. During an argument, the giant working in Lavena got so upset that he threw a rock at the other giant. It narrowly missed him and flew until the St. Catherine Church, where it remained lying in the meadow and can still be seen today. And how to reach the little church? A hiking trail leads from the village of Avelengo to the church (approx. 1 hour), which offers a fantastic view on Merano and the Tessa Group. Starting in the hamlet of Santa Caterina it is only a short walk.

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The inside of the church is visible through a window in the door, the guided tour of the St. Catherine Church will be offered again from March 2023.

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