(The post Oberammergau Passion Play Canceled as Coronavirus Locks Down Germany appeared first in The New York Times; Photo: The New York Times; via Pam Green.)

Over 400 years ago, villagers swore to stage the play every decade, as long as God spared them from the plague.

In 1633, as the plague swept Europe, the villagers of Oberammergau prayed to God. They promised to perform the story of Jesus’s Passion — his life, death and resurrection — every 10 years, as long as God spared them from the horrors of the disease.

Since then, the people of Oberammergau, in what is now Germany, have largely kept up their end of the bargain.

But, on Thursday, the organizers of the play — which has a cast of some 2,500 and can feature 900 people onstage at once — announced they were canceling this year’s edition of the Passion Play, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The first of the 103 daylong performances had been scheduled for May 16. The production will be delayed until 2022, the organizers said in a statement.

Germany is on lockdown because of the virus, with large gatherings banned. On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel used a rare televised address to plead with people to obey restrictions and self-isolate.

“This is serious,” Ms. Merkel said. “Take it seriously. Since German reunification — no, since World War II — our country has never faced a challenge where we depended so much on our collective actions and solidarity.”

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