Catholic Dictionary




The dramatic rendering of Christ's Passion in religious, artistic, and popular forms. They appeared originally as part of the ritual of the Church, first in Latin, then in German, and gradually developed in popular form until they lost their dignified character. By the seventeenth century their presentation was confined to monasteries or isolated villages. Public interest in them received new life in the nineteenth century, in the Austrian Tyrol, in southern Bohemia, and above all at Oberammergau in Bavaria, where now a world famous literary drama is enacted with appropriate music and setting. It is performed every ten years as an act of thanksgiving for the deliverance of their village from the plague.