September 4, 2009

Passion Play and Danube cruise are part of 2010 pilgrimage

Archdiocesan pilgrims will view the world-renowned Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany. (Photo courtesy Grueninger Tours Inc.)

Archdiocesan pilgrims will view the world-renowned Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany. (Photo courtesy Grueninger Tours Inc.)

Criterion staff report

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein will lead an archdiocesan pilgrimage to Europe from Sept. 25 to Oct. 4 in 2010.

Among the highlights are a viewing of the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany, and a five-night cruise on the Danube River.

The history of the Oberammergau Passion Play dates back to the middle of the Thirty Years War.

In 1633, after months of suffering from the bubonic plague, the people of Oberammergau took a vow to perform the Passion Play every 10 years if they were spared. Miraculously, they all survived and, true to their promise, the first performance of the play took place in 1634.

More than 2,000 citizens make up the actors, singers, instrumentalists and stage technicians that bring the play to life.

In addition to viewing the Passion Play, the pilgrims will visit Vienna, Austria, with its architectural wonder, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, as well as numerous other European cities and places of worship important to the Catholic faith.

A special feature of this pilgrimage is a five-night cruise along the Danube River on board the River Princess. The pilgrims will sail from Vienna to Regensburg, Germany.

While docked in Vienna on Sept. 26-27, the pilgrims will be able to sample some of Europe’s finest music, art and architecture. Besides St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was married in 1782, they will visit Schoenbrunn Palace, the summer home of the Hapsburg emperors.

In Krems, Austria, on Sept. 28, the pilgrims will sample wine during a visit to the best traditional and state-of-the-art wine domain.

En route to Melk, Austria, on Sept. 29, the pilgrims will pass through the scenic Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape which represents one of the most beautiful stretches of river valleys in Europe.

In Melk, the pilgrims will visit the 900-year-old baroque Benedictine Melk Abbey, situated high atop the granite cliffs of the Danube River.

On Sept. 30, the pilgrims will travel to Passau, Germany, where they will enjoy an organ recital at St. Stephan’s Cathedral, the site of Europe’s largest pipe organ.

Next is a visit to the medieval town of Regensburg on Oct. 1. Known as one of the finest medieval towns in Europe, it captures 2,000 years of living history and is home to the Cathedral of St. Peter, with stained-glass windows that date back to the 14th century. Regensburg University is also where Pope Benedict XVI taught from 1969-77.

After leaving the ship, the pilgrims continue on coach to Ettal, Germany, at the base of the German Alps. There will be a stop in Freising to see the cathedral and celebrate Mass where Pope Benedict and his brother, Georg, were ordained priests on June 29, 1951.

After Mass at the Ettal Monastery on Oct. 2, the pilgrims will travel to Oberammergau and have time to stroll through the streets of wood-carving shops before having lunch then attending the afternoon and evening performance of the Passion Play.

The final full day of the pilgrimage will be spent in Munich, Germany. It will include a visit to and Mass at the Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Lady), where Pope Benedict was first an archbishop and then cardinal before he was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome in 1981.

The trip includes:

  • Round-trip airfare from Indianapolis,
  • Five nights of deluxe accommodations in a category 3 stateroom on the River Princess,
  • First-class hotels in rooms with private baths,
  • Luxury motor coach with restroom and air conditioning,
  • Most meals,
  • Sightseeing per itinerary, including entrance fees and English-speaking guides,
  • Porterage of one suitcase (limit 50 lbs.) per person,
  • A carry-on tote may be taken if self-carried,
  • A Grueninger Tours travel director,
  • A flight bag and luggage tags.

The cost of the pilgrimage is $5,599 per person for double occupancy or $6,879 per person for single occupancy.

(For more information, call Carolyn Noone, associate director of special events for the archdiocese, at 317-236-1428 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1428, or e-mail

Local site Links: