Church made of snow and ice opens in Germany

Eric Pfeiffer

After weeks of preparation, the people of Mitterfirmiansreut, Germany, have opened a small Catholic church built entirely of snow and ice.

The snow church is part of a long-tradition in Mitterfirmiansreut dating back more than 100 years. The ritual harks back to when town authorities denied a formal request from residents to open their own traditional house of worship. So the petitioners decided instead to erect  a church out of nothing but snow and ice.

"It was meant as an act of provocation," Catholic Church Dean Kajetan Steinbeisser told ABC News. "Believers from the village got together and built a snow church because they didn't have a church here."

The ice sculpture reportedly cost more than $200,000 to create and was delayed for several weeks by unseasonably warm weather. Thousands of visitors are expected to visit the mini-cathedral before it begins to melt away.

The structure--nicknamed "God's Igloo"--was made with 49,000 cubic feet of snow. It's roughly 65 feet in length, and even has a tower.

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