The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Italy is splendid, but play's the thing

Passion Play in Oberammergau brings "a return to the basics" of faith

I've wanted to see the Passion Play since I first visited Oberammergau, Germany, in 1986. That was three plays ago, and the third one was a charm. Last September, I took a tour of Italy that ended in Oberammergau for a performance of the Passion Play.

I chose Italy because I've never been there and it occupies such an important place in the history of Christianity. It has Rome, Florence, Venice, the Vatican and vast collections of priceless religious art. Add in the architecture, archaeology, antiquity and Italy has it all.

So I thought it would be a perfect prelude to the Passion Play, a journey back through the faith to the very source. But Italy is wonderful in the way an overly rich dinner is wonderful. The first few bites are fabulous, and then your appetite starts to wane. After Rome's Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica, Michelangelo's Pietà and the Coliseum, the duomo of Siena, the David sculpture in Florence and St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, you can't digest any more grandeur, magnificence or splendor. You crave a return to the basics — of your diet and your faith.

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