People celebrated National Pilgrimage to St. Wenceslaus
The celebration culminated in a mass on a square of the town Stará Boleslav. Among its participants were bishops of the Czech Republic and as a guest Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany.
Presiding over the liturgy was Cardinal Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague. In his homily he mentioned this year’s celebration of the Ss. Cyril and Methodius jubilee – 1150 years since the arrival of these “Apostles of the Slavs” to the territory of the today’s Czech Republic.
He also underlined the significance of Stará Boleslav as a place of pilgrimage. “It is not only a place where St. Wenceslaus was martyred, but also the oldest place of pilgrimage to Our Lady in our country and a place where a medal called ‘Palladium of Bohemia’, protection of our country, is kept. Stará Boleslav could be our Częstochowa or Montserrat, our Guadalupe or Aparecida,” said Cardinal Duka.
He then continued and mentioned that the Palladium shares the fate of our country and its citizens: “The history of the Palladium is also a history of our humiliation during the Nazi and Communist regimes. When Dr. Horáková was arrested, the Palladium was put behind bars of the secret police office as well. Isn’t this an expressive testimony about the Mother of Him whom we call Emmanuel, God with us? Indeed, Virgin Mary has always stood by her people and we may also say by her nation.”
Concluding his homily, Cardinal Duka underlined the significance of St. Wenceslaus for the Czech statehood and quoted a contemporary historian Petr Charvát: “A day when the memory of St. Wenceslaus starts to disappear from our historical consciousness will also be a day when the people of the Czech language start to descend to Hades.”
Cardinal Marx: There is no stranger in the Church
At the end of the mass, the participants were also addressed by Cardinal Marx, who mentioned this year’s 75th anniversary of the Munich Agreement and spoke about the idea of Czech-German reconciliation. “There is no stranger in the Church, there cannot be any frontiers between the baptized. If we are aware of this, than closeness, trust, solidarity, and charity can grow,” stated Cardinal Marx.
He then said: “However, our ancestors and even the generation of our parents made wars. We are stricken by the fact that people of Christian background could be so easily seduced to violence, exploitation, injustice, racism and totalitarian rule. As people born after the World War II we may not even be able to understand how this could repeatedly happen. But we are able to understand that today we have been appointed a task to support reconciliation among all the European nations in the spirit of Christ. There cannot be any enemies in the new people of God,” declared Cardinal Marx.
He also appraised the effort of the Czech bishops for such reconciliation, made after the fall of the Communist regime in 1989. He finally asked St. Wenceslaus himself for the reconciliation between Czech and German nations. “That’s why I want to ask saint prince Wenceslaus for his intercession and I pray to God for the growth of trust among us. May the peoples of our countries be joined by freedom, peace, and friendship now as well as in future.”
Celebrations opened with the veneration of St. Wenceslaus relic
The National Pilgrimage to Stará Boleslav was opened on Friday evening by a welcoming ceremony for the relic of St. Wenceslaus – his skull – and a concert in the basilica dedicated to the saint. On Saturday, the program after the solemn mass continued with some cultural performances on the square, a concert in the church of the Assumption, and evening fireworks.
(Photo: Roman Albrecht)