Hundreds of horsemen in traditional costumes participate in the 600th annual Pentecost Ride in south-west Germany.
BAD KOETZTING, GERMANY (MAY 28, 2012) (REUTERS) - More than 900 horsemen attended the 600th annual Pentecost Ride on Monday (May 28) in Bad Koetzting in south-western Germany. In the biggest procession in Europe on the Pentecost weekend was accompanied by the bishop of Regensburg Gerhard Ludwig Mueller. Tens of thousand of onlookers lined the way to get a glimpse of the horseswhich were decorated elaborately and the horsemen in traditional costumes.
The pilgrimage led from Bad Koetzting to a church in Steinbuehl about seven kilometres away.
The mayor of Bad Koetzting, Wolfgang Ludwig, hailed the ride for its beauty: "And the impressions when we ride through the beautiful Bavarian countryside, that is a very good feeling."
According to the legend in 1412 a priest was to bring the sacrament to a dying man in the tiny church in nearby Steinbuehl. Since bandits lurked along the way, some young men from the village protected the priest on horseback. After the successful journey, the lads vowed to undertake the journey annually. Women are not allowed to take part in the procession.
Pentecost is a prominent holiday in the Christian calendar, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the remaining eleven Apostles of Christ. For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described as the "Birthday of the Church." Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks (50 days) after Easter Sunday.