God is Love
Pilgrimage to the Oberammergau Passion Play
July 13-22, 2022
Since 1634, the Oberammergau village in Germany has staged a Passion Play for the world to see every ten years. There have only been a few times in history when the play had to be cancelled or postponed, including in 2020 when organizers moved the date to 2022 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This centuries-old tradition of remembering Christ’s Passion is a moving testament to God’s infinite love for humanity, and a powerful reminder of Catholic faith and devotion. Join Fr. Eric Augenstein, Fr. Tony Hollowell, and Verso Ministries to contemplate the mysteries of the Cross as you explore the breathtaking scenes and sites of Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.
Discover it For Yourself
Experience God’s presence through the Passion Play. An age-old tradition that happens just once a decade, the Passion Play bears witness to the beauty and truth of Christ’s redemptive death. Pilgrims from around the world join at Oberammergau to become immersed in the story of the Passion of Jesus Christ, played out through his trial, suffering and crucifixion.
Admire the beauty of Einsiedeln Abbey placed in a beautiful Swiss, Benedictine community. Take a moment of prayer in Abbey of St. Gall built in the 8th century — a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was once one of the chief Benedictine abbeys in all of Europe. Marvel at the architecture of the Salzburg Cathedral, a 17th century masterpiece of early baroque art.
Discover the people, places, and culture of Switzerland, Austria, and Germany with immersive tours of each destination. Take in the gorgeous scenery of Lucerne and Chapel Bridge, walk around Salzburg’s Old Town and stop by Mozart’s favorite place to eat, Cafe Tomaselli, and explore the rich Bavarian history and traditions of Germany.
(Itinerary shown does not include flights to/from pilgrimage.)
Welcome to Switzerland
Your pilgrimage journey begins on Day One when you depart from your home airport en route to Switzerland. When you arrive at the Zurich airport the next day, make the scenic drive to Lucerne and check into your hotel. That evening, meet your fellow pilgrims at an Opening Mass and enjoy a delicious dinner at the hotel.
A Day of Reflection
On your first full day of pilgrimage, you’ll experience the beauty and history of Einsiedeln. Explore the Benedictine monastery of Einsiedeln Abbey — the site of Marian devotion in Switzerland for over a thousand years and home to the magnificent Black Madonna Shrine. Take your time as you pray, meditate, and experience the Abbey in a special way as guests of the monks. Lunch is just down the road from the Abbey with your fellow pilgrims. Afterwards, there will be time to explore the village the Abbey overlooks and serves before traveling back to Lucerne for dinner.
Black Madonna Shrine
In the Einsiedeln Abbey, you can’t miss the Black Madonna Shrine. This shrine was brought to Einsiedeln in 1466 and became the most important Marian shrine in Switzerland. She owes her extensive wardrobe to numerous donations from around the world, given as thanks from those who believed their prayers were answered after visiting the Black Madonna.
Explore Lucerne’s City Center
Your day will start with a guided tour of Lucerne, featuring iconic sights like Chapel Bridge, Water Tower, Jesuit Church, Lion Monument, Franciscan Church, and Spreuer Bridge. After the tour, you are free to do some exploring of your own. Take a walk into the old town on the bank of the Reuss around Lucerne’s historic core, or have an authentic Swiss lunch at the famous bistro, Mill’Feuille, known for their delicious breakfast and pastries.
Adventures Around Interlaken
Beginning with a drive through the gorgeous countryside of Switzerland, you’ll soon find yourself arriving in Interlaken for a full-day of exploration and adventure. After celebrating Mass, walk through Interlaken as you discover the beautiful buildings, local treasures, and views that Interlaken has to offer, such as the Aare River, Unterseen, the Japanese Garden, and so much more. Then, wander the city for the perfect lunch spot (maybe near the lake) before taking advantage of the free afternoon. You could hop on the Lake Thun Boat Cruise and explore two castles, journey through the St. Beatus Caves as you marvel at the truly ancient stalactites and stalagmites, or spend time uncovering the hidden gems and views of Interlaken.
Medieval Abbeys and Magic
Today, travel towards Salzburg along the southern slopes of the Alps with a stop in the Swiss town of St. Gallen to visit St. Gall Abbey and celebrate Mass. This ancient abbey, founded in the 8th century, is home to one of the oldest monastic libraries in the world. It’s a wonderful place for reflection, a chance to listen to God, and the perfect time to meditate on what you’ve experienced so far on this journey. Take in the breathtaking views of the Alps and Bavarian countryside as you continue to Salzburg. You’ll have time that evening to do some exploring, such as weaving through the streets and corridors of the Altstadt (the Old Town) or sampling the local cuisine.
In and Around Salzburg
In the morning, visit the famous Shrine of Our Lady of Maria, where a fire destroyed everything except, miraculously, a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The shrine built on the site was even visited by John Paul II in 1983. After celebrating Mass there, drive back through the unbelievably stunning Austrian Lake District on the Sound of Music tour. Once you return to Salzburg, you’ll get another opportunity to get to know the town better with a walking tour featuring views of many iconic sites, including the Salzburg Cathedral. It’s one of the city’s most important sacred sites, with its masterful architecture, grand organ, and seven bells. It was also the church where Mozart was christened and where he later performed his own works. You’ll also experience Mirabell Gardens, gondola rides to Hohensalzburg Fortress, Mozart’s house, and other sites.
Seeing the Beauty of God in Austria
If there’s one day that puts the beauty and love of God unforgettably on display, it’s this one. The morning is a special reminder of the many miracles of the Virgin Mary, and how she is a constant light around the world. As you travel through gorgeous Austria, give thanks for the incredible world we live in. And later, outside Salzburg Cathedral, be inspired by God’s work through humanity to create magnificent works of art, whether architecture, music, or sculpture.
Magnificent Churches and Castles
Today is the day you make your trek to the Oberammergau area. Along the way, you’ll stop at Wieskirche, located in Steingaden, to offer prayers in the beautiful rococo church. It’s here that, in 1738, a statue of the Scourged Savior was found to be crying tears, which resulted in a flood of pilgrims and many miraculous healings. From there, you’ll continue to Schwangau and celebrate Mass at St. Coloman Church, named for the Irish Pilgrim who was martyred near Vienna and became Austria’s first patron saint. Then you’ll get the opportunity to tour Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the most stunning, magnificent castles in the world. Called “the castle of the fairy-tale king,” it’s one of Europe’s most popular palaces. At the end of our tour, you’ll end your day in Ettal with dinner at the hotel.
The Grand Finale: The Passion Play
The day has finally come, what everyone has been looking forward to and waiting for — the Passion Play! Today begins with morning Mass at the Ettal Monastery, a beautiful Benedictine monastery. With around 50 monks, it is one of the largest Benedictine houses. From there, you will have a bit of free time before departing for lunch before the Passion Play. Part One of the play will begin at 2:30pm, followed by a break with a three-course dinner at 5:30. Part Two will then begin at 8:00pm and go until 10:30pm. Enjoy your last night in Germany.
The Oberammergau Passion Play
The play is a sight to behold — over 2,000 performers, musicians, and stage technicians, all from Oberammergau itself, tell the story of Christ’s passion on an open-air stage. 2022 will be the 42nd performance of the production that is a nearly 400-year-old tradition, having started in 1633. But more than spectacular, it is sacred. It will bring the greatest moment in history to life before your very eyes.
A Final Day in Germany
Wake up refreshed the next morning, ready to begin your journey back towards home. Transfer through Bavaria to Munich to continue your journey by either boarding your flight home to the U.S. or exploring the history, culture, and faith of Munich, the capital of Bavaria and home of the world famous breweries featured each year at Oktoberfest, the world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival and funfair).
Optional Extension - The Global City of Munich
After winding your way through Switzerland and Austria, and visiting Oberammergau, you owe it yourself to head north to Bavaria’s biggest, most popular city: Munich. It’s known worldwide for its incredible museums, architecture, and of course, Oktoberfest. As you reflect on the Passion Play you just witnessed, spend three days getting to know this global center of arts and culture.
- Standard accommodations in double-occupancy rooms, including taxes (Single room supplement available on a limited basis)
- Breakfast daily
- Airport transfers
Arrive in Bavaria’s Capital
After transferring from Ettal to Munich, saying Auf Wiedersehen (“goodbye” in German) to your fellow pilgrims, head to the hotel for check-in. From there, head to whatever site or experience strikes your fancy, or simply relax in your room before heading out for a stein at one of the many beerhouses, maybe Hofbräuhaus or Paulaner Bräuhaus.
Free day to discover one of Munich’s museums, such as the Residenz Museum or Bavarian National Museum, marvel at St. Peter’s Church, or create your own adventure. To reflect on the history of WWII and the impact of Nazi Riech, visit the former Nazi Concentration Camp in Dachau. However you choose to spend your day, end it with time reflecting on your journey and experience by enjoying a bite of schnitzel or a brat and sauerkraut.
Until Next Time
Wake up, eat breakfast, and head to the Munich airport. As you head home, it’s the perfect time to reflect on your trip through Switzerland, Austria and Germany, and how God continues to reveal his love for us.
Once you register, we’ll help you prepare for the journey, logistically and spiritually. In the meantime: