Oberammergau history – In the 17th century the thirty years’ war took place (1618-1648) in central Europe and was one of history’s most devastating. As a result of the war, poverty and disease was widespread and thousands died as a result of the plague. In the small village of Oberammergau alone there were 80 deaths. During this time of suffering the citizens of Oberammergau made a sacred pledge that every 10 years they would perform a “Play of the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ” if God would protect them from the plague. Legend has it that after the vow was made, there was not even one further case of Bubonic Plague in the village and those town members that already were afflicted recovered.
oberammergau passion play history
Oberammergau passion play history – The promise was fulfilled for the first time during Pentecost in 1634 and every 10 years since, the villagers of Oberammergau have continued to implement their pledge with the exception of 1940 when the play was cancelled due to World War 2.
This tradition has continued over 4 centuries with only residents of Oberammergau permitted to actually take part. The participants devote a year of their lives to re-enact the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. All of the people taking part in the Passion play or as it is known in German “Passionsspiele” are ordinary people who carry on pursuing their normal everyday lives such as doctors, teachers, housewives etc. All the main speaking parts have always been filled by actors who were born in Oberammergau or have lived there for at least 20 years. This custom has remained throughout the 380 years since this world famous Passion Play was first performed.
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