St. Hilarius Parish Church of Näfels, Walnut Oil, and a 14th Century Murder
In 1357 one of two murders occurred in the Swiss town of Näfels - either a man named Konrad Mueller killed a man named Heinrich Stucki, or a man named Tschudi killed is brother. It doesn’t really matter which. Whatever happened, the outcome was an agreement between the murderer and the church in which walnut oil, from walnut trees belonging to the murderer, was deeded to the church, “for eternity”, to maintain their eternal flame. The murderer would, in return, not be prosecuted for his crimes.
For more than 650 years, the deed having become attached to the land where the walnut trees once grew, successive owners honoured the agreement - despite the trees, original house, and obviously the murderer, being long gone. That is, until the owner in 2012, somewhat disgruntled at still having to pay for the sins of a man he never met, decided enough was enough.
At some point the deed was altered to payments of 70 Swiss Francs a year, despite there being no longer being any particular link between the land and the church. Upon hearing of the farmer’s refusal to pay this money the church took him to court. The court, as one would hope, deemed the law of 1357 null and void.
[Sources: Joyful Molly Wordpress | Wikipedia | Newly Swissed]