Originated in the ritual of the Church, appearing first in Latin, then in German; the contents were gradually adapted to popular ideas until in the 15th century the popular religious plays had developed.
The Passion Plays of the 15th century with their peculiar blending of religious, artistic, and popular elements gave a true picture of German life of that time.
In the 16th century, they began to lose their dignified character.
With the appearance of the Jesuit drama in the 17th century, the Passion Plays were relegated to monasteries and out-of-the-way villages.
Towards the end of the 18th century, efforts were made in Catholic Germany to destroy even the remnants of the medieval plays.
Public interest in the Passion Play awoke anew during the last decades of the 19th century, and since then Brixlegg and Vorderthiersee in the Tyrol, Horitz in southern Bohemia, and above all Oberammergau, in Upper Bavaria, attract thousands to their plays.
New Catholic Dictionary