Swiss Town Hopes To Keep Lamp Burning

The World

Näfels, Switzerland in the Alps (Photo: WIKI)

A controversial court ruling in eastern Switzerland inspires our Geo Quiz.

The ruling is about an "eternal flame" that's been burning for more than 600 years.

It's inside a church in a town nestled in the Swiss Alps. The church's spire looks out over the Linth River in the Swiss canton of Glarus.

The church has proudly kept that flame burning since 1357, though it seems many local residents don't remember why.

It has to do with a murder case. A 14th century murder case involving neighbors.

One more thing: the killer was a local farmer with lots of walnut trees on his property.

Sorry that's it for clues.

Now here's the rest of the story: A recent Swiss court ruling has released a farmer from an obligation, dating back 655 years, to finance an "eternal lamp" in the local church in Näfels (the answer to our Geo Quiz!).

The debt arose from a 14th century murder case in which one man was accused of killing a neighbor. To atone for his crime, and to avoid vengeance from the family of his victim, the killer offered to pay for a lamp in the church "for eternity". But the ruling wiped the slate clean and nullified any ongoing obligation dating back to the medieval era case. So what's the fate of the "eternal flame"?

Andrea Looser, a journalist with Südostschweiz (south east Switzerland) newspaper says Näfels residents have already stepped forward to keep the lamp burning.

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