A little gem
The Pilgrimage Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Götzens is not only a gem in terms of its architecture, but also in terms of its superb acoustics, hence the numerous high-calibre concerts that are held here every year. The 18th century Rococo church is also the last resting place of the martyr and parish priest Otto Neururer. In his honour and as a mark of public recognition, the urn containing his ashes was placed in the new people’s altar in 1996, the year of his beatification.
Born on 25 March 1882 in Piller in the Pitztal valley, Otto Neururer was parish priest in Götzens from 1932 to 1938. His contemporaries describe him as a humble man who avoided political confrontation, but who, with critical farsightedness, recognised the anti-clerical ideology of the national socialist regime.
When, in 1938, a young woman from his parish expressed the wish to marry a divorced SA man, Neururer, in keeping with his sense of priestly responsibility, advised her against the marriage. The rejected man took revenge on Father Neururer by denouncing him to the Gestapo. Neururer was arrested and taken to Buchenwald concentration camp where, despite having been forbidden to do so, he continued his pastoral duties offering solace, assistance and encouragement to many prisoners. His own fate he placed at God’s discretion. His pastoral activities landed him in the much feared “bunker” where he was killed on 30 May 1940. The urn containing his ashes was sent to Götzens at the end of June 1940. Attended by hundreds, the popular priest’s funeral manifested itself as a powerful demonstration of faith and it was at this time that Neururer came to be venerated as a martyr.