Religion: Passion at Oberammergau

It is only a folk festival. The actors beneath their specially grown beards and long hair, are simple Bavarian villagers. The script is amateurishly florid. Yet the once-a-decade production of the Passion Play at Oberammergau, Germany, has long been a byword for Roman Catholic piety−and a major international tourist attraction. Ticket demands for this season's 98 performances exceed the supply by about 1,000,000. The 500,-000 or so visitors who will throng the area are expected to spend more than $10 million−enough to keep Oberammergau going through the next nine lean years when the...

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