One day, while strolling through the village, I stopped before a house upon whose wall was an artistic decoration of unusual beauty. It was the residence of the Lechners - father and son. Both are prominent personages in Ober-Ammergau.

The Burgermeister's Residence

The Burgermeister's Residence.

The son is considered the best artist in the village, and is one of the principal singers in the Passion Play; while the father is the famous George Lechner, whose role of Judas in 1880 was one of the most remarkable in the drama. I had a great desire to talk with this retired veteran, for ten years before I had deemed him, with the exception of Maier, the most talented of all the actors.

Stepping, therefore, to his door, I asked if I might see him. He presently appeared. Though more than seventy years of age, he had not changed materially during the past ten years. I recognized him, therefore, at a glance, and telling him in a few words of the pleasure he had given me ten years before, I asked him if he would appear this season.

Village Houses

Village Houses.

George Lechner

George Lechner.

"Yes," he replied; "I shall appear, and that is about all. The 'Judas,' of four decades has now become the insignificant 'simeon of Bethany!' Of course," he added, "I do not complain. Es kann nicht anders sein. Only I feel like an old crippled soldier within sound of battle. I have in the house a portrait of myself taken in 1880, in the character of Judas. Would you like to see it?"

Of course I assured him that it would afford me great pleasure. "Can you bear to see the part played now by your successor?" I presently inquired. "No," he answered quickly; "it recalls to me too vividly the days when I was young and strong." "Ten years ago," I reminded him, " you told me that you did not like the role of the Betrayer, and did not wish your son to follow in your footsteps." "True," he replied, "it was a thankless part; but now that I no longer have the strength to act, I see that I took pride and pleasure in portraying it."

On Saturday, the day before the performance, the church bell awoke me at an early hour, and I beheld the people in great numbers on their way to mass. I followed them into the richly decorated church. Perfect order prevailed. In the front pews were seated all the children, the boys on the right, the girls on the left; and at the end of the service they marched out together, two by two, with folded hands, preceding the adults. Music was rendered by an orchestra consisting of a cornet, violin, and organ. I noticed that Joseph Maier and the Biirgermeister sat in the same pew; and when the priest passed down the aisle, dispensing from his moistened brush the consecrated water, he paused a moment before Maier, apparently offering up for him a special prayer.

The Home Of Judas

The Home Of Judas.

The Judas Of 1880

The Judas Of 1880.

Having returned from the church, as I was seated at the window writing, I suddenly heard the distant strains of a band of music, and saw the people pointing toward the summit of the Kofel. At first I could not understand the cause of the excitement, but by the aid of a field-glass I soon perceived that men were raising on the mountain the new-cross, in place of the one blown down some months before. The mammoth emblem was fully forty feet in height, and was covered with zinc, so that, when the sun shone upon it, it was visible for miles down the valley. When the new cross was firmly secured, the sound of a small cannon, fired on the summit, proclaimed the fact to the villagers. I was not surprised to see the satisfaction that beamed from every face at sight of that most welcome restoration; for the people of Ober - Ammergau are almost superstitious in their belief concerning the influence of that cross upon the Kofel.

Raising The Cross On The Kofel

Raising The Cross On The Kofel.

James The Younger. Simon

James The Younger. Simon. Christ, (joseph maier) James The Elder. Matthew.