History of the Europassion
The same faith, the same ideal …
The interpretation of the Passion has a long tradition in Europe. At present, Passion Plays are performed in many European localities, and in addition to that there are a lot of representations of the Passion and a lot of Passion processions during Holy Week.
Already for a long time, single towns had friendly relations, especially on a national level. The idea to unite groups performing Passion plays from Western and Eastern Europe was born already almost 30 years ago and led to the foundation of EUROPASSION. Maurice Clos from Paris - Menilmontant, who died in 2009 at the age of 98 in Paris was one of the tireless fighters for this idea.
In May 1982 there was a meeting of the Passion play localities in ESPARREGUERA (Spain) with the participation of Loudéac, Nancy, Masevaux from France and Ulldecona, Olesa de Montserrat and Esparreguera from Spain. The idea for this meeting was born in the Abbey of Montserrat. Already here, the idea for an umbrella organisation of the Passion play localties from different countries had been suggested.
In 1984, 10 delegations participated in a first official meeting in LOUDEAC (France). For the first time, a charter of an umbrella organisation of the Passion play localities was considered. The planned umbrella organisation was to be called EUROPASSION.
In 1989, 16 delegations – particularly French-speaking and Spanish groups - came together for a workshop in LOUDÉAC on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Passion play group resident there. The Passion play localities confirmed their intend to preserve the character and originality of each group and to not belittle the mutual respect by judging each other. The Passion play groups exchanged promotional material, photos or cassettes. They expressed the desire for a connecting magazine. LEVATE, the Europassion magazine, was created. The goal of EUROPASSION would not be to realise a uniform model Passions play one day – its wealth would rather be its diversity! In 1990 for the first time German groups were invited to a meeting in MASEVAUX (France). The desire to design a logo was expressed. The administration was assigned to Loudéac, for the time being. That year there was also a international meeting in ÖTIGHEIM (Germany), in which for the first time groups from Austria participated. In 1991, 13 groups from 6 countries met in ST. MARGARETHEN (Austria).
In 1992, 26 groups followed an invitation to PARIS – MENILMONTANT (France). For the first time, groups from Eastern Europe (Poland, Hungary, The Czech Republic, Romania) participated. These groups wanted to revive their old Passion play tradition after the downfall of communism. These participants were promised moral and financial support.
In 1993 SÖMMERSDORF (Germany) welcomed 27 delegations from 12 European countries to a friendly meeting.
In 1994, 18 delegations met in CERVERA (Spain) and representatives from different countries met in Nancy in order to prepare the foundation of a pan-European Passion play association. At a meeting of 27 delegations from 12 countries in 1995 in LIGNY (Belgium), the foundation as an incorporated association of the EUROPASSION as a confederation of European Passion play localities was decided. A statute was worked out and discussed extensively. Josef Lang from Auersmacher (Germany) was voted secretary general unanimously, Ligny was awarded Registered office of the Europassion.
In 1996, 34 delegations from 12 countries adopted the statutes of the Europassion in ST. MARGARETHEN (Austria). According to this statute, the goal of the association EUROPASSION is
- the proclamation of the message of Christ by means of a peformance of the Passion
- the promotion of cultural and human relations between the Passion play communities
- the exchange of experience between the single groups and the discussion of points of principle about the interpretation of the Passion, without belittling the diversity of interpretations by the different groups
- the promotion of any kind of religious theatre or sacral performances, whose most important interpretation is the Passion of Christ
- the organisation of friendly and solidary relations between the single groups
Each group has one vote as a member of the Europassion at its annual general assembly, independent of the size of its representation, the number of its performances or spectators.
- In 1997, 23 delegations came to TEGELEN (Netherlands).
- In 1998 the annual meeting took place in MENDRISIO (Switzerland). Here, the presentation of Europassion online was initiated.
- In 1999, 35 groups came to the meeting of the Europassion in THIERSEE (Austria), 43 delegations came to OBERAMMERGAU (Germany) in 2000.
- In 2001, 32 groups could be welcomed to the first meeting of the Europassion in Eastern Europe in MAGYARPOLANY (Hungary). Here, the homepage of the Europassion was opened.
Subsequently, annual meetings were held:
- 2002 MONTEFOSCOLI (Italy) - 27 delegations
- 2003 SEZZE (Italy)
- 2004 NANCY (France) - 26
- 2005 PULA (Croatia) - 26
- 2006 LOBZENICA (Poland) - 25
- 2007 WINTRICH (Germany) - 36
- on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the EUROPASSION there was also a meeting in ESPARREGUERA (Spain)
- 2008 SALMUNSTER (Germany)
- 2009 Neumarkt i.d. Oberpfalz (Germany)
- 2010 FERREIRA DO ZEZERE (Portugal)
- 2011 Cantiano (Italy)
- 2012 Schönberg (Belgium)
- 2013 Erl (Austria)
- 2014 Loudeac (France)
- 2015 Sordevolo (Italy)
- 2016 Cieszyn (Poland)
- 2017 Kecskemét (Hungary)
- 2018 Budaörs (Hungary)
- 2019 Tullins (France)
- 2020 Tirschenreuth (Germany) - Canceled due to Corona
- 2021 Skofja Loka (Slowenia) - Canceled due to Corona
The locations for the annual meetings of the next few years are already set: 2022 Esparreguera (Spain), 2023 Horice Na Sumave (Czech Republik), 2024 Miercurea Ciuc (Romania), 2025 Crostwitz (Germany), 2026 St. Margarethen (Austria), 2027 Skofja Loka (Slowenia)
Each Passion has its own style, its character (often related to tradition), its own setting, its own appeal. Nancy (France) e. g. builds its stage in the municipal exhibition hall, Verges (Spain) performs in front of the municipal musem since the 15th century, Tegelen (Netherlands), Budaörs (Hungary) and other groups perform on an open-air stage, St. Margarethen (Austria) in a stone quarry, Tullins and other localities in church, Mariekerk (Belgium) on the church square, Ménilmontant, Auersmacher and many others perform on a small hall stage, Erl (Austria), the groups from Spain and many other communities perform in their own big Passion play house. Many groups connect their performance of the Passion with processions. Each director chooses his/her own style and the setting, that offers the best possible scope of design. The performances often take place with but more often than not without the support of the local municipalities.
"The proclamation of the message of God can occur in the most diverse of ways. In my opinion, theatre is perfectly suited for this."