It was during the Thirty Year War that the deadly and contagious disease known as the Black Plague broke out in Germany. Before it ran its course it struck one in every three persons throughout Europe and left in its wake untold misery, panic and hunger. It reached everywhere, even to sailors out at sea who had not been to port for many months. But one little village in the south of Germany was spared: Oberammergau.
The Townspeople of Oberammergau made a vow that if they were spared, they would give a play of the life of Christ every ten years. The fact that they were saved is one of the most amazing mysteries in history.Thus, the first passion play took place in 1634. Throughout the years, however, Oberammergau has produced several gifted poets who have set the Play to verse as well as lengthened it, until it achieved its present form as an artistic masterwork. To qualify as actors the performers must be native Oberammergauers, amateurs and persons of high moral and ethical principles. It is a great honor to be chosen to play the part of a saint and the highest earthly honor to be chosen to play the part of Christ. The beautiful Costumes are made by the local villagers and their long hair is natural (no wigs) as they start to grow their hair and beards a year or more in advance in preparation for the play