Hungarian Connections to Religious Sites

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On Saturday, February 13th, our Museum was once again filled with guests who came to listen to a very unusual topic: how two famous pilgrimage sites have historic and close ties to the Hungarian people. John Lauer’s  presentation focused on Fatima, a town of 10,000 people in Portugal, which Catholics throughout the world revere as a place where the Virgin Mary had six apparitions in 1917 to three shepherd children. The Hungarian connection is through Fr. Lajos Kondor, who arrived in Fatima in 1954. In addition to helping Lucia, one of the three shepherd children, write her memoirs, he helped spread the message about Fatima throughout the world. He secured funding for a Hungarian Way of the Cross, which spreads over 3 kilometers. The first fourteen stations were financially sponsored by Hungarian donors from around the world, including Cleveland, Ohio. These stations were inaugurated in 1964. The 15th station was sponsored by the Hungarian government in 1992.  At the end of the stations is a chapel dedicated to St. Stephen of Hungary. As someone so aptly wrote describing this footprint of Hungarian faith: “Amazing, the prayers, sacrifice, purpose, devotion, and love that made this blessed place of miracles happen….Thank you, for sharing your beautiful, memorable trip with all of us.”

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The second presenter, Fr. András Mezei, of St. Emeric Church, spoke about Csíksomlyó, a pilgrimage site in Transylvania, Romania, a region Hungarians refer to as Erdély.  Fr. András mentioned that there were neither apparitions of the Virgin nor miracles attributed to the Virgin of Csíksomlyó; however, some have attested to seeing the shape of the Virgin in the sun. The present pilgrimage church, built in 1802, is in the baroque style, and can hold 5,000 people. Fr. András summarized the history of the site and the earlier churches that were there in the past. He told the story of the statue of the Virgin Mary and the damage done to it by the Ottoman Turks and how the new church on the hill is the center of an annual pilgrimage made by Hungarians from all over world. Miklós Peller and Ádám Török Dancsó provided music for listening as well as the accompaniment to a Székely hymn and the Székely Anthem.

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