Promise, plague and passion

Next year, Oberammergau stages its 42nd passion play, keeping a 400-year-old promise to God.

What started as a bargain with God has become a centuries-old village tradition that brings audiences of hundreds of thousands from across the world.In 1633, Bavaria suffered an outbreak of the plague so bad that the villagers of Oberammergau tried to win God’s mercy by vowing to stage a regular enactment of Christ’s Passion. The plague subsided and the first passion play was staged at Pentecost 1634, over the graves of the victims.

The play took place every 10 years until 1674, then the pattern shifted in 1680. Extra performances have been staged to mark anniversaries, while others have been cancelled because of difficulties such as war and attempts by the Catholic Church to ban the play.

In 1780, the play was purged of graphic violence; in 1990 it was purged of antisemitism after decades of Jewish protests and a withdrawal of the Vatican’s endorsement. A number of auditorium have been built for the play, the present one designed for an audience of 5,200, with an open-air stage.

Oberammergau’s passion play is an epic phenomenon – five hours long plus a three-hour break,the first half in daylight and the second by night. The story starts at Jesus’entry to Jerusalem with a crowd scene of 2,000, and is interspersed with tableaux from the Old Testament. There are 124 speaking roles, a 65-piece orchestra and a chorus of 48.

Next year’s passion play runs from 15 May to 3 October and McCabe Pilgrimages offers escorted pilgrimage tours for you to join.

Enjoy top grade tickets to the Passion Play and a stay in Oberammergau village during a week-long Pilgrimage holiday in Austria.

Prices from £1,515

  • Depart May to September 2020
  • Fully escorted throughout
  • Included touring programme
  • Group offer for 10 or more
  • Fly direct from London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester and Dublin

Call FREE on 0800 107 3 107


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