BAD TÖLZ, Germany – Bavarians in traditional costume took part in a horse-drawn procession in southernmost Germany on Tuesday honoring a centuries-old tradition paying homage to the local patron saint of animals.
The Leonhardifahrt procession, held each year in honor of St. Leonard of Noblac, has been a staple of the Bavarian village of Bad Tölz – located 46 kilometers (29 miles) to the south of Munich – for centuries.
Numerous carriages carrying mostly women wearing period hats, elaborate jewelry and fox fur stoles took part in the parade, escorted by numerous male horse riders, to the delight of thousands of tourists in attendance.
The procession made its way up the Kalvarienberg, or Calvary Hill, where a chapel now stands on the spot that, according to legend, was once home to a sacred pagan tree.
The town’s first such procession took place in 1722, and it has been a yearly event – with few mostly wartime-related exceptions – since 1855.
The famous ceremony draws an average of 20-25,000 visitors each year to the Bavarian village, which has a population of about 18,000.
St. Leonhard of Noblac was a Frankish saint from the 6th century AD.