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Agatha statue

Customs often have their roots in church life. This is also the case with the traditions related to Saint Agatha in Olpe.
Saint Agatha died as a martyr in Catania, Sicily around 250. A statue of her, created by the sculptor Josef Baron from Unna, has stood on the northern side entrance to Saint Martin’s Church in Olpe since 1979. It also depicts the horrors of our modern times on four panels: FEUER, VERTREIBUNG, HUNGER and ÜBERSCHWEMMUNG (fire, displacement, hunger and flooding).
Saint Agatha has been a secondary patron saint of the town of Olpe for centuries and is said to protect it from fire. The celebration of her feast day dates back to a vow made by the town in 1665 and has been held each year around 5 February ever since. The day begins with a solemn High Mass in Saint Martin’s Church, where the town council renews the vow made to Saint Agatha. In this vow, the councillors pledge to observe the day solemnly each year, give alms and refrain from eating meat. At the same time, they ask Saint Agatha to protect the town from all harm, and especially from conflagrations.
A solemn procession takes place through the streets of Olpe in the evening. In some places, the windows are lit up with candles or decorated with red paper lanterns, known as “Bummen”. Festive altars with their lights and lanterns round off the atmospheric setting.

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