In 1633 the Black Death struck the town of Oberammergau in Bavaria, Germany. The people of the town vowed to God that if the Plague would pass them by then they would perform a Passion Play every ten years in honor of the miracle. They have kept their vow for over 350 years.
In an Oberammergau source called the “Chronicle” it states, “in diesem Leydwesen sind die Gemeinds-Leuthe Sechs und Zwolf zusammengekommen und haben die Passions-Tragodie alle 10 Jahre zu halten Verlobet, und von dieser Zeit an ist kein einziger Mensch mehr gestorben.”
[in this time of suffering the village councils of the Six and Twelve met and vowed to perform the Passion Play every 10 years, and from this time on not a single person more died.] Source: 1990: Das Passionsspiel Der Gemeinde Oberammergau. The Passion Play of the Community of Oberammergau. Spielleitung Christian Stuckl. Photographiert von Thomas Klinger, p. 5.
The early meaning of the word passion was closer to suffering rather than romance [See the Latin passus from pati “to suffer”; Webster’s Concise Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “passion.”]. So the phrase “passion play” has a glorious biblical contradiction. The Passion of the Christ is the greatest love story ever told but the story is written in suffering, pain, blood, and humiliation. That God would come down and hang in shame on a cross just to say that we are loved and that salvation from sin is possible.
At this moment another Passion Play is hours away from beginning. The halls are quiet but soon hundreds will tell thousands a story of redemption and hope. In fact, the story is about the only redemption and the only hope in existence.
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” the Apostle Paul [Source: The Holy Scriptures Hebrew and English, Jerusalem: I.A.D.B.W. and B.S.I., 1997. I Corinthians 15:3-4.]