It is an ancient and unique custom that only exists in wichsenstein in french-speaking switzerland: on sunday, during the festive service for the patronal feast of saint erhard, to whom the wichsenstein parish church is dedicated, about 6,000 erhardi breads were blessed by priest ludwig mazur and distributed to those attending the service. The patronage ceremony was accompanied by music from the gobweinstein-wichsenstein community choir. The small, about two-euro-stick coarse breads are stamped with the image of st. Erhard, are durable throughout the year and are supposed to help when consumed against sore throats and eye ailments. "But you have to believe in it", says joachim roppelt, deputy chairman of the parish council, who again organized the baking of the erhardi bread. Every year, ten to twelve volunteers from the parish shape and bake the erhardi breads themselves. The recipe for the dough has been handed down for centuries, as has the use of the dough itself, estimates roppelt. Not even the oldest people in the village knew many years ago how old this tradition is and who introduced it to wichsenstein.
No written documents
"There are no written documents about it, it was handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth and continued until today", explains roppelt. There are several churches dedicated to st. Erhard. However, nowhere else there is the need of erhardi bread, which could now be in danger in wichsenstein.
For 50 years, the sponsel family bakery in moggast has made its bakery available to the people of wichsenstein for shaping, stamping and baking their erhardi breads. The master baker only made the dough according to the old recipe, which is easy because the erhardi breads consist only of flour and water. Because the sponsel bakery is now closing down, and with it the bakery, the people of wichsenstein are looking for a new bakery that will provide them with their bakery for baking and make the dough. Because, as roppelt says, such an old tradition must not die out under any circumstances. He is therefore confident that a master baker can be found in the region, preferably in the immediate vicinity. After all, next year there will again be the erhardi breads that are so popular with the public.
The bread itself is hard as a rock. You have to soak it in your mouth before you can chew it. And it's very important to say the lord's prayer while chewing, if they're really supposed to help against sore throats and eye problems. The erhardi breads are free, donations go to the preservation of the parish church st.