- Title: German village believes 17th century vow may save them from coronavirus
- Date: 10th April 2020
- Summary: OBERAMMERGAU, GERMANY (APRIL 9, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PASTOR THOMAS GROENER HOLDING BOOK ARTEFACT STATUES IN CHURCH VARIOUS OF GROENER HOLDING THE BOOK ON A TABLE AND SHOWING WRITING IN BOOK (SOUNDBITE) (German) PASTOR THOMAS GROENER SAYING: "You could say it's purely coincidence. You can... a religious person would interpret it differently. The town council made a promise based on their beliefs that if they would be spared from the plague in the future, that they would then perform the passion play here every 10 years. And they did that. The first performance took place here in this church." CHURCH INTERIOR WRITING SEEN IN OPEN BOOK GROENER LOOKING AT BOOK BOOK OPENED DISPLAYING TEST VARIOUS OF ALTARS AND STATUES IN CHURCH (SOUNDBITE) (German) PASTOR THOMAS GROENER SAYING: "God helped the people back then. He saved them from the plague epidemic, spared them. That continues similarly to today. We are in this corona crisis, but a religious person who prays to God asks him for help. He has confidence in God that he will help. And I am absolutely certain that God is there for people and stands by them and saves them, just like back then." VARIOUS OF GROENER IN CHURCH GROENER'S HANDS TURNING PAGES IN BOOK (SOUNDBITE) (German) PASTOR THOMAS GROENER SAYING: "I was amazed when I came here as a pastor. Here the numbers are not measured according to years, but according to the number of passion play performances. So, when someone tells me when he got married, he doesn't say he got married in 1996, he got married six years after the 90's passion play." INTERIOR OF CHURCH CHRIST ON ALTAR VARIOUS OF GROENER WALKING THROUGH CEMETERY VARIOUS OF GRAVESTONES IN CEMETERY
- Keywords: Catholic Jesus Christ Oberammergau coronavirus coronavirus Germany passion plate
- Reuters ID: LVA001C8WS7DL
- Location: OBERAMMERGAU, GERMANY
- City: OBERAMMERGAU, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Duration: 00:03:29
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Story Text: In 1633, the Bavarian village of Oberammergau made a promise to God.
During the height of the bubonic plague, one in four people were believed to have died in the alpine town.
So, Oberammergau's village council, along with survivors well enough to walk, went to the church and pleaded with God that those remaining be spared. In return, they vowed at the altar that every 10 years they would perform a passion play depicting the last weeks of Christ's life, his crucifixion and resurrection.
A leather-bound book at the local church records the deaths believed to have been stopped, and Oberammergau has continued the tradition ever since.
So far, the Bavarian village has not recorded any coronavirus cases, and its pastor believes that the 17th century promise could be the reason why.
Passion Plays were common during the 16th and 17th centuries but the Oberammergau Passion Play is the only one that has survived.
The 42nd edition of the play was scheduled to start on May 16, but last month was postponed by two years due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Only people born in the village or who have lived there for at least 20 years are allowed to take part. Out of the 5000-some residents about half are involved working in various jobs such as seamstresses or stage hands.
Preparations begin as early as the year before when men and women grow their hair, and men their beards, as no wigs or false beards are allowed.
This year's performance was set to take place in a new purpose-built theatre which seats some 4400 spectators.
Although no coronavirus cases have been recorded so far in Oberammergau, the village is still suffering the economic impact, and for that the pastor says, prayers are still needed.
(Production: Ralph Brock, Christine Soukenka, Barbara Woolsey)
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