13 Days: Shrines of Italy & Oberammergau “Passion Play”

“What makes this performance so extraordinary is how the Stage truly comes alive! Not only in the decoration of the Set and the performance of the Actors, but with real animals and birds playing under the open sky. There are thirty-six (36) main actors who are dressed in white costumes, with their supporting cast dressed in greyish blue. The actors do not wear makeup, as that is their natural hair. Every scene is real, and live, so for example: the actor who is tied to the cross has to stay in that position for more than one (1) hour In between each scene, there are “Living Tableaus”, where the live actors perform intricate sets of the Old Testament. You can never describe the feeling you get, as you see these stories being performed right in front of you”.

BOOK YOUR TRIP
[wpdatatable id=”47″ var1=”10 days”]

YOUR TRIP INCLUDES:

  • Round Trip Airfare.
  • All airport taxes and Fuel SURCHARGES.
  • Includes First class Hotels 4 stars.
  • Headphones for the pilgrimage.
  • Transfers as per itinerary.
  • Breakfast and Dinner daily.
  • Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary.
  • Daily Masses.
  • Professional local Catholic guide(s)
  • Prices Based on Double Occupancy.
  • Tour Brochures: Special promotional brochures featuring the Pilgrimage printed for distribution by you.
  • Travel Protection Plan for Everybody on Pilgrimage is provided for FREE.
YOUR TRIP DOES NOT INCLUDE:

  • Trip cancellation protection plan is not included and is strongly recommended.
  • Nativity Pilgrimage offers a comprehensive policy at additional cost.
  • Passport & visa costs, if any.
  • S. Passports must be valid for at least six (6) months subsequent to return date.
  • Items of a personal nature (hotel extras, laundry, phone calls, etc.).
  • Meals not specified in the program.
  • Gratuities to the tour manager, guides and driver.
  • Items not specifically mentioned above.

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.

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.

The Passion Play (Passionsspiele) takes place in an open theatre that seats approximately 5.000 people, with a magnificent mountain background and performances take place 5 days a week from May until late September/early October. Even though the play is in German, people from around the world, many of them not religious, come to experience the fascinating way the town comes together to perform the Passion Play. It is estimated that more than half a million visitors came to Oberammergau in 2010 to see the play.

Originally the play was performed in the parish church which soon proved to be too small and it was then held in the Church graveyard. Over the years there were a number of changes, until in the 18th century the graveyard venue was also too small and the play was moved to a nearby field with a new stage having to be built each year. Eventually towards the end of the 19th century a permanent stage was built with outstanding acoustics and seating for approximately 4000 spectators. The present day stage looks very similar but has been enlarged from time to time and renovated to include comfortable seating, underfloor heating, and modern toilet facilities. It is wheelchair accessible and has a seating capacity for an audience of more than 4700.

In addition to the 21 main cast roles about half the inhabitants of Oberammergau devotedly re-enact the story of Jesus. None of the participants see themselves as professional actors and all have normal jobs but see the honour of taking part in the Passion Play as a reward in itself.

Preparations for 2020 have already begun with the exact schedule to be decided by 2017. Rehearsals take about 10 months and in preparation for the 2020 play, in 2019 by Ash Wednesday all participants, according to tradition, will start growing their hair and the men will grow beards and by autumn 2019 rehearsals for the Passion Play will begin. Only those portraying Romans naturally do not have to grow beards.

Things To See In Garmisch-Partenkirchen District


One of the most beautiful mountain resorts in Germany is the Garmisch-Partenkirchen District. Situated in the heart of Bavaria, it’s a mountain resort town with a border that touches Austria. The Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, is located very close. Apart from being one of the most beautiful places in the country, the district was also the home of the 1936 Olympic Winter Games.

For many centuries, the two towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen were completely different. It wasn’t until 1935, when Adolf Hitler forced the mayors of the two towns to merge together. There’s a significant difference between the two towns as well. The cobblestoned, fresco-filled streets of Partenkirchen harken back to the days of old, while the asphalt-lined, modern-styled streets of Garmisch offer a bit of modern appeal.

There are plenty of places that you can see and visit through the Garmisch-Partenkirchen District. Here are some of the best attractions.

Due to its close proximity, the Zugspitze is one of the most popular destinations for people who visit Garmisch-Partenkirchen. If you go during the winters, you can easily enjoy time skiing or relaxing at many of the beautiful mountain lodges located along the way. The Zugspitze has a huge mountain resort, as well, which attracts skiing enthusiasts from all over the country.

The Bavarian Alps


If you are into hiking and trekking, why not take a trip to the Bavarian Alps? There are guided tours that leave from the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district to numerous ranges in the Bavarian Alps. The tours generally range in terms of difficulty, so if this is the first time that you are going hiking, it would be best to choose a beginner tour. As you become more experienced, you can take on greater challenges!

Riessersee


The gorgeous Riessersee lake is a must-visit for tourists in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It was used as the main lake for hosting the speed skating events back in the 1936 Winter Olympics. The lake is situated on the southwestern side of the district. It’s arguably one of the most scenic places that you can visit in the country, with enormous mountains rising in the background and trees littering the horizon. Many have said that the Riessersee has a very calming influence on them when they arrive.

Fern Pass


The Fern Pass is situated in the Tyrolean Alps in Austria, though a small portion of it also moves through the Zugspitze. The summit of the Fern Pass goes as high as 1,210 meters. The pass was created by a massive mountain slide, and it was developed over time by travelers. It’s currently regarded as one of the most popular destinations for tourists who are visiting the district.

Zirbel


While the region itself is all about hiking and travelling, there are plenty of local delicacies that you can try here as well. Characterized by an old, iconic bear, the Zirbel is a local pub that has been standing tall for many years. It’s a popular destination for tourists who just want to rest and drink some beer after a tiring day. However, the menu doesn’t just stop at drinks—you can try out their exciting schnitzel or noodle dishes if you really want a proper.

Jagdschloss Schachen


Arguably one of the most popular hiking routes in the district, this one takes you straight to King Ludwig II’s hunting lodge. It’s around 10 kilometers long, and you will notice the plain wooden hut from a considerable distance away. However, while the exterior may be simple, the interior looks like something out of an Arabian fairytale.

The picturesque village of Oberammergau, in its lovely mountain setting is situated in Bavaria Germany in the district of Garmisch-Partenkiirchen near the Austrian border.

It is widely known for its Passionsspiele (Passion Play) that is performed every 10 years. This charming town is also known for its woodcarvers who have been skilled at this craft continuously ever since medieval times and there are many shops that offer these wonderful carvings in a variety of sizes.

Even in the years between the enactment of the play there are many interesting places to visit. Walking through the village itself is a fascinating experience with its splendid buildings, lovely woodcarvings and delightful traditions. There are traditional fairytale houses with colorful pictures on the exteriors, painted by artists. This is an old custom that has been carried on through the ages and continued in modern times.

The area also has some of Bavarias outstanding churches and castles.

INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR TRIP
  • Capital: Berlin
  • Language: German
  • Population: 81 million
  • Time Zone: EST plus 6 hours
  • Currency: Euro (EUR or €)
  • Electricity: 230V. 50Hz
Read More About GermanyRead More About Italy

ITINERARY
Day
1

Monday: USA to Rome

Today: Your pilgrimage begins today as you depart on your overnight flight to Rome. Meals and drinks served aloft.

Day
2

Tuesday Rome / Torre Argentina / Pantheon / Castle of The Holy Angel

Today: We arrive in the beautiful picturesque city of Rome. We are greeted by our tour guide and board our coach bus for a panoramic tour of the “Eternal City”. We travel to your hotel, settle in and unpack. There is free time for lunch. We then board your coach bus and travel to Largo di Torre Argentina. This archaeological site is sunken 20 feet below modern street level it contains part of the famous Theater of Pompey, upon whose steps dictator Julius Caesar was betrayed and killed in 44 B.C. Visit Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. The present basilica and it former convent buildings were built over the remains of the Temple of Minerva (Isis). We then travel to the Pantheon which was a magnificent ancient temple and is now the Church of Santa Maria ad Martyres. Michelangelo came to the Pantheon to study its dome before he began work on the dome of St. Peter’s (whose dome is 2 feet smaller).

Evening: Dinner and overnight accommodations will be at your hotel.

Day
3

Wednesday Rome / Vatican City / St. Peter’s Basilica / Sistine Chapel

Today: In the morning, attend Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.  We then attend a general papal audience with Pope Francis. After the audience, we tour the Vatican-Museums to see centuries of beautiful artwork and artifacts. See the artwork of Michelangelo such as the Pieta and then visit the Sistine Chapel. Lunch is at the Vatican Museum. In the afternoon, tour St. Peter’s Basilica where tomb of St. Peter is located. We then tour the interior of the Basilica.  End our day on a visit to the Tomb of St. John Paul II in St. Sebastian’s Chapel.

Evening: Dinner and overnight accommodations will be at your hotel.

Day
4

Thursday Rome / The Catacombs / St. Paul Outside The Wall / Trevi Fountain

Today: This morning, we start our day celebrating Mass at the Basilica of St. Cecelia in Trastavere.  The basilica and convent are built over the home of St. Cecelia who was martyred in the 3rd. century. Visit the catacombs of St. Callixtus which is among the greatest and most important in Rome. Travel to St. Paul Outside the Walls where the body of St. Paul is buried. Visit the Trevi Fountain where a coin thrown over your shoulder will guarantee you another visit to Rome. We then stop for lunch. The afternoon is free for shopping, relaxing or touring additional city sites.

Evening: Dinner and overnight accommodation will be at your hotel.

Day
5

Friday Rome / Colosseum / Roman Forum / Basilica of St. Gregory The Great

Today: We begin our walking tour of Rome. Starting at the Piazza Venezia we will walk to some of Rome’s most famous sights like the Capitoline Hill, the Roman Forum and the Pantheon.  Visit the Capitoline Museums and view one of Italy’s finest collection of classical sculptures.  We walk to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven (Sancta Maria de AracoeliIt which is the designated Church of the city council of Rome. Walk past the Mamertine Prison where St. Peter and Paul were held before their executions. Walk to the Via dei Fori Imperiali where we have an opportunity to tour the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Arch of Constantine.  After lunch, we visit The Basilica di San Clemente (Basilica of St. Clement) an early Christian basilica in Rome dedicated to Pope St. Clement. Visit the Basilica of San Gregorio Magno al Celio (St. Gregory the Great) which is part of a monastery of monks of the Camaldolese branch of the Benedictine Order We stop at Mother Teresa convent for a short prayer and make a donation.

Evening: Dinner and overnight accommodations will be at your hotel.

Day
6

Saturday Rome / Basilica of St. Mary Major / Scala Sancta / Sant Prassede

Today: Visit the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme one of the Seven Pilgrimage Churches of Rome. It houses the relics of the Passion of Jesus Christ. From here, we visit the Scala Sancta, the stairs Christ climbed to stand before Pontius Pilate. Those who wish may climb the stairs, as is the custom, on their knees. We stop for lunch and free time for shopping. In the late afternoon, we traveling to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Mother. It is a Papal major basilica and the largest Catholic Marian Church in Rome. It contains a relic from the manger. A few steps away from St. Mary Major is Santa Prassede. It is a 9th-century basilica, which has a piece of the scourging column of Christ.

Evening: Dinner and overnight accommodations will be at your hotel.

Day
7

Sunday Rome / Basilica Of Santa Maria / Spanish Steps / Borghese Gallery

Today: We travel to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere (English: Our Lady in Trastevere) a titular minor basilica. According to legend, on the day Christ was born a stream of pure oil flowed from the earth on the site of the church, signifying the coming of the grace of God. Upon leaving the Basilica, we then walk the Via Julia and cross the bridge to Via dei Penitenzieri and walk to St. Peter’s Square for the noon Angelus. We stop for lunch and then catch the metro to the Spanish Steps. After visiting the Spanish Steps, we walk through the Villa Borghese (the largest public park in Rome) and arrive at the Borghese Gallery and view its collections of paintings and sculptures mainly from the 15th. to 18th. Century.

Evening: Dinner and overnight accommodations will be at your hotel.

Day
8

Monday Rome / Assisi

Today: This morning, we will celebrate/attend Mass at St. Mary of the Angels Basilica, site of the Porziuncola, the tiny church in the woods where St. Francis began his ministry and where St. Clare began her religious life. We will tour the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and view many of his personal possessions. The crucifix that spoke to him, asking him, “Rebuild my Church.” We visit the chapel where St. Francis spent most of his time as well as the Church of St. Clare, where her relics are housed. The rest of the day is for shopping or relaxing.

Evening: Dinner and overnight accommodations will be at your hotel.

Day
9

Tuesday Assisi / Siena / Rome

Today: In the morning, we head to Siena and view the city’s Romanesque- Gothic cathedral that was completed in 1380. The Sanctuary of St. Catherine of Siena houses the Miraculous Crucifix from which she received her stigmata. We walk the shell shaped Piazza del Campo Town Square, which houses the Palazza Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia two of their many architectural treasures. We continue on to see the incorrupt relics of St. Catherine of Siena at the Basilica of St. Dominic. Return to Rome in the evening.

Evening: Dinner and overnight accommodations will be at your hotel.

Day
10

Wednesday Rome / Oberammergau

Today: After breakfast depart to Rome airport for your flight to Munich. Upon arrival at Munich Airport, make your way to the baggage claim area and collect your luggage. Proceed to the arrival’s hall, where you will be greeted by your tour guide and/or driver. Enjoy a picturesque ride through Bavaria arriving at your hotel in Oberammergau (or nearby). Time permitting walk the quaint streets of Oberammergau. The incredible 2,000 Oberammergau citizens are the actual actors, singers, instrumentalists and stage technicians. They are ordinary citizens who lead an everyday life. Later in the afternoon we will celebrate Mass followed by a welcome dinner.

Evening: Overnight accommodations will be at your hotel.

Day
11

Thursday: Oberammergau / Passion Play: Performance Day

Today: We will start our day by celebrating Mass. Then there will be some free time to relax and spend at your own leisure, before meeting to enjoy lunch together. After which we will make our way to the world famous Passion Play Theatre, to attend what will be a performance of a lifetime – the 42nd Oberammergau Passion Play. The Play runs for approximately five and a half hours, and is performed in two (2) Acts.

Act I will begin at 2:30 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.
(Intermission: From 5:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M., you will have dinner at a restaurant that is walking distance from the theatre)

Act II will begin at 8:00 P.M., and conclude at 10:30 P.M.
Evening: Overnight accommodations will be at your hotel.

Day
12

Friday: Oberammergau / Munich

Today: After breakfast, we will depart the Oberammergau area to Munich. Munich is the capital of Bavaria, one of Germany’s popular destination. Upon arrival enjoy visiting many of Munich’s top sites; Marienplatz with its world famous “Glockenspiel” the twin-towered Frauenkirche (the Church of Our Lady), which serves as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich. The Cathedral is widely considered a symbol of Munich. Celebrate Mass followed by free time for lunch and/or shopping.

Evening: Dinner and overnight accommodations will be at your hotel.

Day
13

Saturday: Munich to USA

Today: This morning we will transfer to the airport to catch our return flight home.