What to do in summer > Sports and leisure > Natural world > The Educational Trails > Heritage Trails > Historical Path in Saint-Jean > Post 22. Chapel of Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Post 22. Chapel of Saint-Jean-Baptiste

The Chapel of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, located in Saint-Jean d’en-bas, inevitably attracts the attention of visitors because of its proportions and the complicity of its bell tower with the top of the Zinalrothorn. Built between 1661 and 1686, the chapel of Saint-Jean-Baptiste replaced an older chapel, present since the early sixteenth century.

Map of St-Jean

The roof, formerly covered with shingles, and the windows had to be rebuilt after the explosion of 1955. It was last refurbished in 2003.

Saint-Jean-Baptiste is an exceptional saint in several respects. The day of the Saint is celebrated twice : first, on June 24, near the summer solstice, and the second time on August 29, day of the Feast of Saint-Jean. After he was beheaded, Saint- Jean’s head was brought on a platter to Salome, daughter of Herodias..

The immense size of the sanctuary is due to its instigator, the priest Egide Massy (1634 - 1697), who had benefited from a rich inheritance. Priest of Anniviers, Egide Massy wanted to build a parish church in his village of Saint-Jean. At the time, there was only one parish church for the whole valley, in Vissoie. The chapel never achieved this status, whence the lack of a cemetery, a bell tower and a baptismal font.

It is one of the few chapels in Anniviers that has retained its authenticity and furniture. The altarpieces of the three altars are the real treasures of the chapel. Works in carved, painted wood, framing of paintings representing the patron saints of the altars, come from the hands of skilled craftsmen established in Valais or passing through at that time.

The high altar has two paintings. The principal one represents the baptism of Christ by Saint-Jean, with the donor, Egide Massy, kneeling right, and bears the date 1684. The small picture above represents the Assumption of the Virgin.

The tabernacle still has the original polychrome, with painted figures of the risen Christ, surrounded by Saint-Georges and Saint-Maurice. In the nave, to the right is the altar of Saint- Charles and Saint-Théodule. On the left, the altar of the Holy Family, with a beautiful canvas depicting Saint- Joseph and the Virgin Mary around the Baby Jesus, surmounted by the dove of the Holy Spirit and God the Father. Half of the benches on the side of the choir are original and half date from the time of the restoration in 1881. The stations of the Cross and altar fronts date from the last quarter of the eighteenth century. In the choir, a painting that dates from the nineteenth century recalls the beheading of John the Baptist.

The chalice offered by the priest Egide Massy in 1680, is preserved with some objects and period furniture and a fine collection of chasubles, that date from 1670 to the present.


After enjoying the peace and freshness of this remarkable building, we go down to the door that we close on this historical journey through Saint-Jean. Well, our friends are gone. It’s time to go to the bistro. So many stories still to be told...