St. Peter’s Anglican in Zermatt – An English Church, An Alpine Sanctuary

If you’re strolling around Zermatt, you will immediately notice St. Peter’s, a cosy, country-style church up on the hill with Matterhorn looming in the background.

Go inside to see the plaque-lined walls that honour past mountain climbers and outside to visit the Mountaineer’s cemetery. You can also go inside if you’d like to attend a worship service, talk one-on-one with a chaplain or even get married! Experience the Swiss Alps within a historical context by visiting St. Peter’s Church in Zermatt as part of your Switzerland holiday.

If you are looking for an English-speaking church while spending time in and around Zermatt, Switzerland, you can attend an Anglican mass at St. Peter’s. Whether you are a British expat or on a short holiday, a mountain climber or just taking in the fresh mountain air, an Anglican or of no denomination, you can visit St. Peter’s, a noteworthy historical site.

The church was founded in 1870 and celebrated its 140th anniversary in June of 2010. Before the building was constructed, protestant Brits and other English speakers held services in local hotels. The plans for making the church building started in May 1865, just a couple months before the first successful climb to the top of Matterhorn was completed, the most famous Switzerland mountain. The triumphant expedition was led by British artist Edward Whymper. As you will soon see, it is no surprise that St. Peter’s is also known as the Church of the British Alpine Club.

Edward Whymper was obsessed with Matterhorn. Since 1860 he had made seven unsuccessful attempts to reach the Swiss Alp peak and even had near-death experiences from rock falls and staying in a tent for 26 hours during a snow storm! But on July 14, 1865, Whymper, his three companions and three guides (one French and two Swiss) were the first human beings to reach Matterhorn’s summit. Tragically, on the climb down, Whymper’s companions, Lord Francis Douglas, Reverend Charles Hudson, Douglas Hadow and the French guide, Michael Croz, were killed. As the four victims all shared the same climbing rope, when one of the members slipped, they all fell to their death.

Since the beginning of St. Peter’s, the church has served as a commemoration to those who have lost their lives while climbing Matterhorn and to remember those who had a special relationship with the mountain. Some of the first and largest donors towards the construction of the church were the relatives of Lord Douglas and Douglas Hadow to remember their brave ascent. The remains of Reverend Hudson are buried under the church’s alter. Also in 1925, The Alpine Club of Great Britain donated funds towards reroofing the church in memory of their mountaineering members who were killed during climbs.

Find out about the wonderful walking Valais and Zermatt have to offer check out the relevant pages on our site.