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Conflict over the Church in Vandans

by Theresa König last modified 2007-11-08 11:27

In the centre of the village there are two churches that grace the village with their contrasting looks.  The pious people of Vandans didn’t have their own parish for the longest time, but in the end, after a long conflict, their efforts to become independent were finally rewarded. 

Conflict over the Vandans Church

Because of the relatively young history, the old Vandans church is built on a piece of land where there aren’t any legends or myths attached to it.  Often during the times when the people were being converted to Christianity, the churches were built on pre-Christian cult sites to make it easier for the missionary work.  It seemed easier at the time not to destroy the old sanctuaries but instead, to change them into churches and to place pictures of saints where the old idols had stood. 

Vandans didn’t have their own church until 1479 which can be explained by the behaviour of the neighbouring village of Tschagguns.  The parish there was responsible for both villages.  This turned out to be quite easy because the church and the vicarage were halfway between the two towns.  In the 16th century there was a conflict between Vandans and Tschagguns.  Namely, Vandans was given the above mentioned new church.  It was a daughter church from the one in Tschagguns and was served by its own chaplain who was immediately under the priest from the mother church in Tschagguns.  This church was very poor and was only furnished bit by bit.  In the beginning they didn’t have any bells, chalices, service books, robes, paintings and much more, but the people from Vandans were able to get all of the things needed by going collecting in the area of Bludenz-Sonnberg.  In Tschagguns, they watched these goings on with misgivings.  They felt that the people from Vandans was a part of the entire community and that in the future would try to leave the upholding of the joint parish, which proved to be true because Vandans started striving for independence after they were given their own church.  Contracts were drawn up in 1507, 1509, 1519 and 1530 to help try and find a solution whereby the only document that is still in existence is the one from 1519.  It took till the year 1651 until Vandans had its own parish.  This meant that it was finally independent of Tschagguns in matters of the church.  It took until the beginning of the 20th century for them to become financially independent of Tschagguns.1

Because of the big increase in the population in Vandans after 1945, there wasn’t enough room in the old baroque church and the church was also in a bad state of disrepair.  In 1958 they started to build a new church and in 1960 it was consecrated.  Again, in connection with the maintenance and restoration of the old church, conflicts of un-dreamt of ferocity which involved the whole of Vorarlberg surfaced.  The Federal Monuments Office as well as the Ministry of Science got involved.  Luckily, in the end, the Vandans Village Church was restored in an exemplary manner and in November, 1992 it was consecrated as the Cemetery Church.  The Bishop of the Diocese who performed the ceremony had these words to say:  “Let us all understand the message that is being sent out by these two, so different church towers in Vandans:  They are standing next to each other in peace.”2


1 vgl. Barbisch 1987: 97ff

2 Schönborn 1993: 101ff


P14-1_Conflict over the Vandans Church.mp3

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