Every year at Whitsun forest workers of the Bayerischer Wald carry a huge candle 13 metres long to St.
Every year at Whitsun forest workers of the Bayerischer Wald carry a huge candle 13 metres long to St. Mary's Chapel on the Bogenberg. The custom goes back two years short of 500 and originates in a vow taken by the people of Holzkirchen in the Bayerischar Wald in connection with a bark beetle plague which threatened wholesale destruction of trees in the neighbourhood.
This year's procession of about 100 persons walked over a distance of 78 kilometres, carrying the enormous candle sometimes horizontally sometimes vertically. As our pictures show, the feat called for more than ordinary balancing power on the part of the carrier.
The most difficult part of the route was the narrow path from Bogan up to the Bogenberg. Along this stretch the candle was carried vertically by several man in turn, up a gradient of more than 1 in 4.
Interest in the event is shown throughout Federal Germany, and people come from far and wide to witness it. The legend behind it is a portentious one. It says that if the candle is dropped in procession frightful disaster will follow.
Though most people are sceptical of the legend, it does not alter the fact that on the two known occasions when the candle was dropped - in 1914 and 1939 - disaster did come....the two World Wars.
St. Mary's Chapel on the Bogenberg is the oldest shrine of pilgrimage in honour of the Holy Virgin in Germany.