Former United States President Jimmy Carter has marked the 40th anniversary of the return of the Holy Crown to Hungary in a letter to the heads of Hungarian Baptist Aid in Washington, DC.
In the letter to Hungarian Baptist Aid head Sándor Szenczy, the 93-year-old Carter recalled that
the return of the crown of Saint Stephen (r. 1000-1038) and other coronation regalia had ushered in improved relations between Hungary and the US.
The crown and regalia were taken from Hungary near the end of WWII and eventually found their way to the US, where they were safeguarded in Fort Knox for several decades.
The crown was returned to Hungary, on January 6, 1978, after lobbying by the head of the American Hungarian Baptist Union Sándor Haraszti and the US evangelist Billy Graham.
In Budapest on Saturday, the Baptists’ role in the return of the Holy Crown was acknowledged by state secretary for church affairs Miklós Soltész at the inauguration of a new building by the Hungarian Baptist Church. Soltész expressed the thanks of the government and the Hungarian nation for the church’s efforts to bring the crown back home.
The Holy Crown and coronation regalia are the oldest of their kind in Europe, Endre Tóth, a retired Hungarian National Museum curator, noted on public television on Saturday. He added that the decision to return them by then-President Carter had been one of conscience and morality rather than political.
Parliament opened its doors to the public on Saturday to mark the 40th anniversary of the Holy Crown’s return.