Czech National Pilgrimage to Rome ended
Prague: The Czech National Pilgrimage to Rome started on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 in the basilica of Saint Mary Major at 3 pm with a rosary and a mass, celebrated by Archbishop Jan Graubner of Olomouc. He also delivered a homily during which he said: "for all Slavs, this basilica is connected with an event of the extraordinary importance for our nations. When saint brothers Cyril and Methodius came to Rome in 867 to ask for approval of liturgical books in Slavonic language, it was given to them right here in this basilica. It was here that Pope Adrian II solemnly laid the Slavonic liturgical books on the altar to pronounce his approval; it was here that the first mass in Slavonic was celebrated."
Pilgrims from the Czech Republic had the opportunity to thank to the Holy Father for his visit to the Czech Republic in autumn last year (September 26-28, 2009) during the Wednesday General Audience in the basilica of St Peter on November 10, at 10 am. Benedict XVI. greeted Czech pilgrims in Czech language with following words: "I cordially greet you, pilgrims from the Czech Republic, who have gathered here in plentiful numbers, in order to render my visit, which I could with joy undertake in your country in the last year. Dear friends, I welcome you! I preserve pleasant and grateful memories to my agreeable journey to your wonderful country. I especially think about hospitable goodwill of the honourable representatives of public life, about the warm welcome of venerable brothers bishops, priests, sacred persons and all faithful, who wanted to express their belief around Peter´s successor. I also perceived the attention of those who though far from the church are nevertheless searching for real spiritual human values, of which the Catholic community wants to bear joyful witness. I ask God that blessings of that journey would bring fruits and wish the Christian people of the Czech Republic to bear witness of gospel everywhere again with new drive and courage. From my heart I grant you all special apostolic blessing which I extend to your families and to whole your country."
During the personal greeting with Pope Prague Archbishop and President of the Czech Bishops’ Conference Mons. Dominik Duka OP invited Holy Father for a short visit to the Czech Republic, to the pilgrimage site Velehrad, in the occasion of the celebrations of 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Ss Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia in 2013. As a gift Czech and Moravian bishops handed over to Pope a hand-made Golden Bible of high artistic quality.
After the audience Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, Archbishop Mons. Dominik Duka OP, Archbishop Mons. Jan Graubner and 1. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg placed flowers to the tomb of Cardinal Josef Beran. Mr. Schwarzenberg in few words remembered Cardinal Beran, his personal friend. The evening before (November 9) they, together with the Czech Ambassador at the Holy See JUDr. Pavel Vošalík, unveiled a bust to remember Cardinal Josef Beran in the pilgrimage house Velehrad in Rome.
In the afternoon at 3 pm, bishops of the Czech Republic with 1300 pilgrims from Bohemia and Moravia celebrated mass in the basilica of St Peter in Vatican. Archbishop Mons. Dominik Duka OP presided over the liturgy and delivered a homily in which he pointed out the historical links of the Czech nation with the basilica of St Peter: "Also we, Czech, have an altar of St Wenceslas with pictures of Ss Cyril and Methodius here, for which we thank to our homeland father, emperor Charles IV."
On Thursday, November 11, pilgrims gathered at the basilica of St John Lateran for a mass at 10.30 am which was celebrated by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk. In his homily he said, that the contemporary pilgrimage to Rome is "a meeting of our local Church with the universal, global Church. (…) It is not only a meeting with the Church of today, but also a journey to its as well as our roots, to the tombs of apostles".
At 12.30 pm the National Pilgrimage was closed by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk with the Angelus prayer, the Te Deum hymn and the ceremony of adoration of cross at the basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem in Rome which the relics of the Christ Cross are stored. The objective of the visit of this basilica is "to plant the cross, living cross into our lives while we are ending our pilgrimage," said Cardinal Vlk. This church is a titular basilica of Cardinal Miloslav Vlk in Rome who led the whole concluding ceremony.
At the end of the pilgrimage the Czech Ambassador at the Holy See JUDr. Pavel Vošalík shared his experience of talks with the Holy Father: "anytime I have the honour to meet His Holiness, always in the past thirteen months, he returned to his visit in our country and always did it with sincere joy and gratitude. It was not different yesterday when His Holiness during the General Audience again repeated how grateful he was for the opportunity to visit our country and he added: „I am very happy Mr. Ambassador. Do you see, how many pilgrims from your country have come!"