Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 2, 2000
Hungarians mark their own millennium
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Local Hungarian Catholics will join their countrymen Oct. 8 in marking the 1,000th anniversary of the establishment of the Church in their homeland by St. Stephen.
Oct. 8 is also the feast of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Hungary, the patron saint of that European country. Pope Leo XIII instituted the feast in 1896, on the 1,000th anniversary of the Hungarian nation.
Members of the 125-family St. Emeric Hungarian Parish will mark both anniversaries with a special 10 a.m. Mass with retired Archbishop Joseph MacNeil.
"This is a very special celebration liturgically for us," said parishioner Gabor Botar.
"For us this is a double celebration because we are marking 2,000 years since the birth of Jesus Christ and 1,000 years of Christianity in Hungary," said parishioner Eva Fekete. "This is a very special year for us."
St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary, successfully established the Catholic Church in the year 1000 despite strong opposition from his pagan compatriots.
In recognition of his work, the Holy Father authorized his use of the special cross that appears on the Hungarian coat of arms to this day.
St. Stephen died Aug. 15, 1038, on the feast of the Assumption. As he lay on his deathbed, he commended his nation and its people to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
From that day on, Marian devotions assumed special importance for Hungarians: Throughout history they turned to Mary in their hour of need and she apparently listened. In 1693, King Leopold I reiterated St. Stephen's dedication to express the nation's gratitude for its liberation from Turkish rule.
This year, Pope John Paul is expected to bless a replica of St. Stephen's crown for the rededication ceremonies to take place in Hungary; once again, he will commend the nation to the protection of its chief patron saint.
Several thousand Hungarian pilgrims are expected to travel to Rome for the blessing of the crown, Fekete said.
Hungarians living in Edmonton are expected to fill their church at 12960-112 St. for the commemoration Mass with Archbishop MacNeil. Excerpts of the 1,000 years of Christianity in Hungary will be read during the Mass.
St. Emeric has not had a full-time pastor since the death of Salesian Father Joseph Hamor in early 1999.
(With files from parishioners Gabor and Szidonia Botar.)