Hungary is hosting a Eucharistic Congress 83 years after the one that took place in 1938, in the presence of a papal legate, a certain Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who was then Secretary of State of the Holy See.
The previous congress was held under special conditions, as Europe was on the eve of a conflict that would soon become global. However, the proceedings were grandiose.
On May 27, a nautical procession took place on the Danube. Cardinal Pacelli, the papal legate, taking his place on a boat, was surrounded by thirteen cardinals. The crowd of the faithful gathered on both banks. At the Mass which followed, nearly 200,000 people received Communion.
Hungarians have fond memories of the passage of the future Pope Pius XII during this Eucharistic Congress. A bas-relief stele in St. Stephen’s cathedral serves as a reminder for posterity.
Much less known is the mosaic representing the Holy Family in the chapel of St. James - Jaki kapolna - chapel where Eugenio Pacelli celebrated mass. The face of St. Joseph bears a striking resemblance to the papal legate.
A New Eucharistic Congress
The Eucharistic Congress of September 2021, initially planned for 2020, is also being held in a rather special period for the Magyar nation.
The freedom regained after 50 years under the Communist yoke and the close surveillance of the USSR is now threatened by a danger from the west: the European Union.
While the country has more or less healed its wounds after a complicated post-communist period, it finds itself facing the dictatorship of liberalism which threatens its sovereignty on several fronts—and it is obviously not the only one in this situation.
After the difficulties linked to migrants, after the repeated accusations against a power described as threatening the freedom of its citizens, going so far as to threaten the rule of law, the new conflict with the EU concerns the way in which the Hungarian state defends its children from perversity: the new law banning the contact of LGBT material with children under the age of 18.
Pope Francis, who has decided to go to Budapest to celebrate the closing Mass of the Eucharistic Congress, in Heroes' Square, obviously does not want to stay too long on Hungarian territory, and has specified that he is not paying a visit to the country. He is still scheduled to greet the President of the Republic, János Ader, as well as Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
But the Pope will leave Hungary immediately after the closing Mass to travel to neighboring Slovakia, for a two-day visit.
It is not certain that the passage of Francis on Hungarian soil will leave a memory as important as that of the future Pope Pius XII.