- Title: German village believes 17th century vow may save them from coronavirus
- Date: 10th April 2020
- Summary: OBERAMMERGAU, GERMANY (FILE - DECEMBER 7, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF ARTISTIC DIRECTOR CHRISTIAN STUECKL DIRECTING REHEARSAL VARIOUS OF THEATRE UNDER CONSTRUCTION EXTERIOR OF THEATRE
- Keywords: Catholic Jesus Christ Oberammergau coronavirus coronavirus Germany passion plate
- Reuters ID: LVA002C8WS7DL
- Location: OBERAMMERGAU, GERMANY
- City: OBERAMMERGAU, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Duration: 00:01:39
- 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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