Weingarten Blutritt | Equestrian Procession Of The Precious Blood

Weingarten Blutritt | Equestrian Procession Of The Precious Blood

Weingarten Blutritt. Blood ride – that sounds a bit martial. But this is not a scene from the latest mystery movie. The Blutritt is an equestrian procession in honour of a blood relic. This kind of religious tradition is still celebrated today, mostly in southern Germany. For example, in Weingarten with about a hundred groups of riders. Around 3000 horses and riders process through the small Upper Swabian university town of Weingarten every year.

Travelling to Weingarten, the mighty baroque basilica high above the town can be seen from afar, like a signal: the basilica towers over the third-largest town in the Ravensburg district appear like a bulwark of Christian architecture to the traveller’s eyes. Which suggests that the Catholic Church has always played a major role in this relatively small town. Today, a university is located in the adjoining monastery complex. The Holy Blood relic is kept in the monastery church, the Basilica of St. Martin and Oswald. It is said to be a few drops of blood – the blood of Jesus Christ. On Bloody Friday the ‘Holy Blood Rider’ dressed in tailcoat and top hat, carries the relic in a golden shrine through the city and the surrounding countryside. He is accompanied by thousands of riders from the region, lined by around 30.000 spectators.

Basilica in Weingarten
Basilica in Weingarten 2014, scaffolded for restoration purposes – Photo: (c) PferdKultur

The evening before, there is a procession of lights from the basilica to the Kreuzberg, which alone attracts about a thousand pilgrims every year. The Blutfreitag – Friday of the Blood – starts early in the morning and is continued some time later with the procession on horseback. In earlier times and until the closure of the monastery in 2010, the Holy Blood relic, worked into a cross set with precious stones, was carried through the town by a priest of the religious order. Since 2011, this task has been carried out by the parish priest of the basilica. After the cross which is secured with a chain and three rings in case the horse reares and the rider is thrown has been carried through and around the city for about five hours, the holy relic, once back at the basilica, is locked securely in a safe. The procession is intended to bestow the blessing of the Holy Blood on the homes, farms and fields.

The Blood Ride is traditionally an all-male procession. It is said that women are not allowed. However, there should have been a few exceptions in the past.

Weingarten Blutritt - Period Painting

For some a profession of faith – “You are bought for a great ransom price, the Holy Blood of Christ” – for others a kind of folk festival and for others an equestrian and horse spectacle, the largest equestrian procession in Europe takes place every year on the Friday after Ascension Day. Anyone who would like to learn more about it or participate in one way or another – the following links provide information:

Weingarten Online
Blutritt – St. Martin

31. August 2019 Off