GLARUS, SWITZERLAND – A Catholic parish in canton Glarus is taking a farmer to court because he refuses to pay CHF70 a year for the oil for an eternal flame in the local Catholic church.
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The eternal flame has been burning in St Hilarius Catholic church in Naefels since at least 1357, when it is first mentioned in a chronicle. It was lit in atonement for the murder of one Heinrich Stucki by Konrad Mueller, reports NZZ.
The oil for the flame came from walnut trees on two pieces of land in the neighbourhood and was deeded in perpetuity – hence the “eternal” flame – to atone for the murder and bring peace to the departed soul. The walnut trees are long gone and the gift was changed into a yearly tribute of CHF70, written into the local land registry. But when the registry was tidied up in 1911, the tribute was left out.
The owner of the land, a young farmer, now refuses to be held to the centuries-old obligation. The Catholic church of Naefels has gone to court in this canton where history is held sacred, to claim its money and the local judge has been unable to work out a reconciliation.
The bishop of Chur, Vitus Huonder, offered to pay the CHF70 but parish officials reportedly have not responded and refuse to comment.