BENSHEIM, Germany (Reuters) - Thousands gathered in the southwestern German town of Bensheim on Friday to watch a procession that seeks to remind locals of the meaning of Easter - an important festival in the Christian calendar - by re-enacting Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.
Actors decked out as Roman soldiers in shiny armor and red gowns accompanied the actor playing Jesus, who sported a beard and crown made of twigs and carried a large wooden cross through the picturesque town center in a tradition that spans decades.
The procession, which depicts scenes from the Bible, is known for its elaborate props and costumes and is performed in Bensheim every year on Good Friday - when Christians believe Jesus was crucified. The tradition was started there by Italian migrants in the 1980s.
“They do it in such a life-like way, it is so believable - it hits the mark,” said Joachim Klenk, one of the spectators.
Edith Lorek, another spectator, enjoyed watching the procession with her friends: “I’m a believer and for me it’s important because it reminds me of Good Friday, the whole story.”
According to the Christian faith, Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday, symbolizing death is not the end but rather a new beginning.
Reporting by Reuters Television and Kai Pfaffenbach; Writing by Michelle Martin; editing by Susan Thomas