Quarter of million visitors during the Night of Churches

On May 28, 2010 the Night of Churches took place for the first time in the whole Czech Republic under the patronage of all diocesan Bishops and a number of officials from the political sphere. The first run of this event was organised in the diocese Brno a Plzeň last year. This initiative has ecumenical character and gives the broadest public the possibility to learn cultural and spiritual heritage of sacral buildings in our country in an interesting way. Nearly 250.000 people visited more than 400 church sites during this night.
Published: 1. 6. 2010 13:00

Prague (CZ): Bishopric of Plzeň organised the Night of Churches for the second time. After the success in the last year, when more than 10.000 visitors had walked through churches, more church sites in the town Plzeň and in the whole diocese joined this year event. Night of Churches has ecumenical character and that is why it takes place not only in the catholic churches but also in houses of worship of several other Christian Churches. In the diocese Plzeň 40 churches and houses of worship participated in the Night of Churches this year and welcomed 16.000 visitors in total. And even more, at midnight the organisers handed over the Certificate of the pilgrim to six enthusiastic pilgrims who had visited all 15 churches in the town Plzeň during this night.

Organisers of the Night of Churches in the diocese Litoměřice evaluated this event as very successful. 65 church sites cooperated on this project, while eight of them applied for in the last day. Until today nearly 8.500 visitors´ entrances have been registered whereas the data are not yet complete from the whole diocese. The biggest interest was recorded by guided tours, performances of liturgical clothes and items accompanied by explanation and concerts. Visitors honoured with gratitude the possibility to get to places that are normally closed to public (on the church galleries, to the sacristies, to towers), to speak with the priests or to light a candle. A relatively high visit rate in the churches in the small communes or in the commonly accessible church sites was a surprise for the organisers.

The Night of Churches, that took place in the diocese České Budějovice for the first time, was organised with hope and expectations as well as with uncertainty and often without concrete experiences. Beside of that the organisers succeeded in opening of 17 churches not only in bigger towns but in the smaller parishes as well. The programme was prepared in the way that it comprised of some musical parts, guided tours of sacral site with explanation of liturgical items but as well as of some time for prayers. This year Night of Churches fulfilled the expectations and can be regarded as a beginning of a new tradition. Visitors in their reactions spoke about glamour and fascination of the Night of Churches. Many of them came just for a while but some of them stayed the whole night. According to the first estimations of the organisers approximately 6.000 people visited the Night of Churches in the diocese České Budějovice.

During the Night of Churches in the Prague archdiocese euphoria and joy from this very interesting event prevailed in the churches not only among the visitors but among the organisers as well. There were over 50.000 visitors´ entrances noted in the churches of the Prague archdiocese. Visitors appreciated the helpfulness of the organisers and above all of the priests, who were available to speak with anybody, who expressed an interest in a talk. It was often heard that this event has its place in our country´s cultural and spiritual life and that it represents a good way how to introduce the richness of the Christian faith to the rest of the society. This year the Night of Churches took place in the Prague archdiocese for the first time but certainly not for the last time.

In the diocese Hradec Králové by first estimations more than 6.000 people took part in the Night of Churches. There were 40 churches open during this night and people had the biggest interest mainly in the guided tours through the history of the churches and in concerts. The towers with their wonderful views that were made accessible just for this night were crowd-pullers for which people waited in queues until midnight.

During this year Night of Churches the organisers in the diocese Brno registered up to 111.000 visitors´ entrances in the 83 opened churches even though rain and storms passed over Moravia. The sense of the Night of Churches was not to cut the records, but despite of that compared to the last year some records occurred. Better results than last year were achieved in the number of the opened churches, in the number of visitors as well as in the amount of the offered programmes, which were carefully worked out to resonate in a better way with the spirit of the church. Visitors had big interest not only in the entrances onto the towers on into the crypts, but also in concerts, non-traditional programmes and various meetings. While crowds of visitors were with patience waiting for the entrance to these places, organ music was playing in many churches and small refreshments or testing of sacramental wine was offered to the people in the queues.

The Night of Churches attracted approximately 40.000 visitors to the 63 opened churches in the whole archdiocese Olomouc. In the Moravian Church metropolis Olomouc almost 23.000 visitors had the possibility to visit 14 churches, chapels and houses of worship. Very various and interesting programme in each church was carefully prepared by volunteers without any financial compensation. Atmosphere in all churches was excellent and the visitors were not discouraged not even by the occasional rain showers.

Churches and houses of worship opened long till the night attracted thousands of people to a visit in the whole diocese Ostrava-Opava. The parishes and church communities in the diocese participated in the event Night of the Churches for the first time and noted almost 12.000 visitors´ entrances. Many people managed to visit several churches during this one night. Even though the sacral building transformed into concert halls, museums, exhibition halls, theatres and fashion displays, enough space for prayer and silence still remained.

Passport of the pilgrim, whose validity was at some places not restricted to the Night of Churches only, was very positively accepted by visitors in many dioceses. More information about the Night of Churches in the Czech Republic can be found on the web-site www.nockostelu.cz.

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