Churches and chapels in the mountain village Goms – Finest religious art

My dignity is my silence. My treasure is my belief. My art is a way to find yourself. My architecture is plain. My art treasures, however, are enchanting. When I was built, people had to forgo meals just to be able to afford me. I am the result of abstinence. I symbolise hope. I store many a fate. Enter with caution, I am Goms’ chapel.

Sometimes it was faith that resulted great treasures in the mountain village Goms; sometimes it was the mere wish to outdo what came before. Eventually, the outcome were roughly 70 churches and chapels built or renovated during the baroque period 1630 to 1798. The flourishing trade over the passes as well as money from mercenary services allowed a certain wealth to accumulate in the country. Goms’ power extended well beyond the valley borders. During several centuries, the region shaped the fate of the whole of Valais.

The Church and Chapel Guide (broschure in german only, available in the tourist Informations of the valley) provides a good insight into the religious art of the mountain village Goms.


The interiors of the churches and chapels has been decorated predominantly by local artists. The Ritz Family from Selkingen has produced many sculptors and altar constructors who have been a credit to their profession. Outstanding leading personalities were Johann Ritz (1666–1729). His son Jodok Ritz (1697–1747) and grandson Johann Franz Anton Ritz (1722–1768) continued his trade but never achieved the same significance.


Beside sculptor and painter Johann Carlen from Reckingen, the village of Reckingen was home to 18th-century sculptors Peter Lagger (1714–1788) and his sons Johann Baptist Lagger (1748–1791) and Josef Anton Lagger (1759–1833). They mostly created works for the parish church Reckingen. Sculpting was a flourishing trade employing numerous painters, gilders, carpenters, joiners, other craftspeople and non-skilled workers.


Johann Georg Pfefferle (1719–1796) and his son Johann Joseph Pfefferle (1756–1838) were of particular importance as painters. They decorated ceilings and vaults of a large number of churches and chapels with paintings of myriads of shapes and figures. Other renowned artists were portraitist Lorenz Justin Ritz (1796–1870) from Niederwald and his son Sohn Raphael Ritz (1829–1894) as well as Ludwig Werlen (1884–1928) from Geschinen.


Matthäus Carlen (1691–1749) was the founding father of a Reckingen family of organ builders who created many well-known instruments even in the USA and France over the course of seven generations. Reckingen produced another organ builder and bell founder dynasty: Walpen bells chime in numerous steeples in the cantons of Valais, Uri, Grisons and Lucerne.