Flüeli-Ranft hosts the memorial to Niklaus von Flüe, otherwise known as Brother Klaus. Located on the Way of St. James, this "place of power" exudes an intense, magical and uplifting aura. It's a gem imbued with mysticism, spirituality and nature.
Niklaus von Flüe was born in 1417. After a successful career, family and social life, he moved at the age of 50 to nearby Ranft, a hillside terrace in the Melchaatobel gorge near Flüeli in Canton Obwalden. He lived there for 20 years, praying, fasting, thinking and receiving increasing numbers of visitors. The timber hermit's cell lies hidden between steep hills. The hermit in the Ranft had a profound effect on people. Men and women from near and far came here to be advised and comforted by Brother Klaus, as he was now called. This sense of solidarity and strength persists to this day.
The house in which he was born has an eventful past. The late medieval log structure was converted into a semi-detached house in 1425, which gave it its present floor plan. Since fragments of the foundations of an earlier small building were found in the cellar, it can rightly be assumed that Niklaus von Flüe was born in this house in 1417.
The property was kept in Brother Klaus's family until 1729, whereupon it was disposed of outside the family and divided into three. It was acquired by a foundation, the Kapellenstiftung Flüeli-Ranft, in the latter half of the 19th century and from 1875 to 1910 used as a school. A complete restoration in 1925 sought to restore the building to its original character using old timber. The furniture and fittings were intended to instil in visitors a sense of how life was back in Niklaus von Flüe's day. Those aims were largely respected during the most recent restoration in 1999/2000.
Niklaus von Flüe built his house in the Schibloch-Matte quarter adjacent to the path to Ranft, where he lived with his family until 1467, the year he became a hermit.
The house remained in the hands of the von Flüe family until the beginning of the 19th century, but was subjected to a number of clumsy conversions. Since the end of the 19th century it has belonged to the Catholics of Cantons Fribourg and Obwalden. The house was professionally restored in 1946 before Brother Klaus's canonisation and the interior largely rebuilt in accordance with pictures in the chronicle of Diebold Schilling.
During his trip to Switzerland, on 14 June 1984 Pope John Paul II celebrated mass before 11,000 people on the meadow next to the house. The living room served as a sacristy and now contains a commemorative plaque bearing the Pope's blessing and signature.
Niklaus von Flüe (1417-1487), this most famous son of Sachseln, came from a respectable background and lived and worked in Flüeli-Ranft; his burial place is in the parish church of Sachseln. It's visited by more than 100,000 people every year.
The burial chapel located by the old Sachseln church tower was built in stages between 1600 and 1878. It's situated on the original gravesite of Brother Klaus. The first grave of Brother Klaus was in the right-hand side aisle of the medieval church, which stood perpendicular to the present one. Visible beneath the stone tomb with its sandstone effigy dating from 1518 is the oldest tomb slab, now very worn, which dates from 1487. It appears to have sunk, but actually the surrounding floor level has been raised.
The mid-14th century gothic crucifix is valuable. It probably surmounted the quire arch of the old church. The votive images and numerous silver votive offerings are indicative of the piety of those who make a pilgrimage to pray at the grave of Brother Klaus.
Parish and pilgrimage church
First mention is made of the church in 1234; it was enlarged in 1459. The lowest section of the freestanding tower dates back to this time. The growing stream of pilgrims following the beatification of Brother Klaus prompted the building of the present church between 1672 and 1684; it was consecrated on 7 October 1684. It has housed the grave of Brother Klaus since 1679 and was completely restored between 1974 and 1976.
Bruderklausenweg (Brother Klaus Way) links Stans with Flüeli-Ranft. This was the route ridden by Heimo Amgrund to Ranft on the night of 21/22 December 1481, whence he returned to the council in Stans armed with wise words from Brother Klaus counselling peace. The path is signposted and largely identical to the Way of St James.
Bruderklausenweg starts at the church in Stans and leads up Knirigasse to the chapel of Maria zum Schnee. After crossing the Stanserhornbahn funicular railway you continue to Hubel - Murmatt - Obwil - Wilti. There is a resting place in Rohrnerberg forest. The path then leads down to Halten hamlet and on to Rüttimattli and the border between Cantons Nidwalden and Obwalden. Via Äberen you reach the "Mei-Chäppeli", then continue heading towards Lätten - Gisigen to the chapel of St. Antoni and finally over the Egg to St. Niklausen. Cross the cantonal road at the Restaurant Alpenblick and descend to the Ranft. The small detour via St. Niklausen church begins at the signpost "Kapelle" and leads from the church a little more steeply and via the Mösli chapel to the Ranft.
The "Way of Visions" is a path for walking and for meditating. Thematically, it begins in Flüeli at the birthplace of Brother Klaus and ends at his burial chapel in Sachseln.
Visions – special God-given and (inner) experiences – are the reserve of holy people such as Brother Klaus and his wife Dorothea. This novel pilgrim's way is dedicated to the inner and exterior life of Brother Klaus. The first five visions were those of Brother Klaus, the sixth an inner vision of Dorothea.
The six metal sculptures along the way and the drawings in this publication are by the Obwalden artist André Bucher (1924 – 2009). The Visionenweg was inaugurated in 1991 to mark the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation.
The museum commemorates Niklaus von Flüe (1417-1487) – Brother Klaus, the patron saint of Switzerland. It's housed in a grand town house dating from 1784 which stand on Sachseln village square.
Core exhibition: "Niklaus von Flüe – mediator between worlds". The core exhibition, renewed in 2012, offers an introduction to the mystic, politician and patron saint, peacemaker, mediator and admonisher. Valuable original artefacts, animated and still images, information and statements via headphones and compelling room installations help bring to life this formative figure from the late Middle Ages and explain the influence he has had over the centuries.