Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, celebrated a bilingual mass in Budapest’s St Stephen’s Basilica on Friday where he crowned a replica of the venerated Polish icon, the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.
“Faith in the Virgin Mary can forge a community of neighbouring countries and her protection will help them through the ordeals of history,” Erdő said at the mass attended by Hungarian and Polish pilgrims, church dignitaries and state officials. “A true knowledge of our past, our national identity and our values are of the utmost importance”, he said.
After the sermon, the cardinal placed a crown identical with the one designated to the original icon by pope Clement XI on the Budapest replica.
The mass was attended by Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament László Kövér, President of the Polish Senate Stanislaw Karczewski, Miklós Soltész, the Hungarian state secretary for church relations, and Jerzy Snopek, Ambassador of Poland to Hungary.
The Black Madonna of Czestochowa is a Byzantine icon from the 6th or 9th century. The icon was taken to Poland by Hungarian Pauline monks in 1382, who founded the Jasna Gora Monastery in the same year. The icon has been housed there since, surviving purges by heretic Hussites and other attackers. When Habsburg monarch Joseph II abolished all Hungarian religious orders in the 18th century, Hungarian Paulines took refuge in Jasna Gora and organised their return to the country from there in 1934.
The icon has been crowned by several pontiffs as its recognition as “Queen and Protectress of Poland”. Its significance to Polish Catholics is also demonstrated by the fact that the nine-day pilgrimage from Warsaw to Jasna Gora has been held every August since the year 1711.
After the ceremony, Kövér and Karczewski opened a Polish-Hungarian youth festival in front of the basilica.
“We need today what [Hungarian king] St Ladislaus represented centuries ago: order, safety and reinforcing the Christian foundations of European civilisation,” Kövér said.
Featured image: MTI