The renewal of the path over the Lötschen Pass in commemorated by a bible (1696)
In 1696 the government approved implementation of plans to improve and extend the old Roman Way across the Lötschen Pass. A company of soldiers was assigned to this task and they worked side by side with the people of Kandersteg for three summers. They found food and lodging with the villagers and obviously enjoyed their hospitality and friendship.
The inhabitants of the Gastern Valley had no bible at that time so the soldiers presented them with a copy of the new edition of the Bernese State Bible which had been translated by the theologian Johannes Piscator who came from southern Germany. Ulrich Thormann, who was a Bernese aristocrat and the company commander in charge of the work, dedicated the bible and decreed that the oldest house owner, whether male or female, should be responsible for the bibles' safety.
This decree is still obeyed today in the Gastern Valley. The bible was the only real result from this bold building plan. The people of Wallis on the south side of the Lötschen Pass never completed their part of the route and so the new route on the north side gradually decayed and the only route from the Bernese Oberland to Wallis remained over the Lötschen Glacier. Military units re-built the path as a mountain hiking trail in celebration of the 700th. anniversary of the Helvetic Confederation in 1991.
The vicars of Frutigen who, in past times, went by foot each summer to their flock in the isolated hamlets of the area, always used the Gastern Bible for their services. The Gastern Sermon has become a treasured tradition and is held annually on the morning of the first Sunday in August. A chronicle of these mountain sermons has been kept since 1822 and the event attracts many visitors.