September 2021 #3 – Pope in Hungary and Slovakia

News in brief.

Pope visits Budapest and Slovakia. The pope began his four-day apostolic visit in Budapest, Hungary for the closing of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress. In Budapest, Pope Francis said “the cross, planted in the ground, not only invites us to be well rooted, it also raises and extends its arms toward everyone;” a thinly veiled criticism of Viktor Orbán’s anti-migrant policies. During his time in Slovakia, Pope Francis visited the three ecclesiastical provinces – Košice, Bratislava, and Prešov, and an estimated 60,000 people attended the Mass celebrated by the pope at Šaštín on Wednesday. 

Conference calls for security and preservation of places of worship. A conference on Religious Freedom and Peace held in Vagharshapat, Armenia, brought together several major church and NGO leaders to discuss the preservation of spiritual, cultural and historical heritage. The conference looked at issues relating to access to places of worship in conflict zones, the protection of religious and ethnic minorities, and the preservation of cultural heritage. The Church of England was represented by Bishop Robert Innes, and the Council of European Churches by Reverend Christian Krieger. Ioan Sauca represented the World Council of Churches. 

Vaccine passport for Swiss churches. Churchgoers in Switzerland will now have to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to attend services where there are more than 50 people. 

New music for the restoration of the Lamb of God altarpiece. Commissioned by the diocese of Ghent, Belgium, to celebrate the restoration of the Lamb of God altarpiece in St Bavo’s Cathedral, The Leading Lamb for counter tenor, choir and piano will have its world premier on 1 October at the cathedral. The composer, Kris Oelbrandt, is a monk at the Maria Toevlucht abbey. 

Image of church in Cork, Ireland

Spotlight on Cork.

St Anne’s Church (Church Street). The climb up the narrow stairs to the belfry of St Anne’s Church offers stunning views over the city of Cork. Built in the 1720s, its two-tone appearance is due to different types of stone being used in its construction – red sandstone from the nearby Shandon Castle, and limestone taken from a derelict Franciscan Abbey. The interior is dominated by Victorian-era woodwork, with a wooden vaulted ceiling and Solomonic (barley sugar twist) altar rail. 

Unitarian Church (39 Princes Street). Built in the early 1700s outside the city gates of Cork for the dissenting Unitarian congregation, the church is typical of Unitarian churches in being without the ornamentation associated with Catholic and Anglican churches. In 1845, the church hosted the writer and anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass. 

St Fin Barr’s Cathedral (Bishop Street). Designed by William Burges, it was consecrated in 1870. Burges also designed over 800 of the many statues in the cathedral. Ornately gothic in style, it was built using local limestone and marble.

The cathedral is built on the site of a seventh-century monastery established by St Fin Barr. The interior of the cathedral is strikingly colourful due to the mosaics, stained glass, and the extensive use of red Cork marble.  

Quaker Meeting House (Summer Hill South, Ballintemple). The Quaker faith was brought to Cork in the mid-1600s by Elizabeth Fletcher and Elizabeth Smith, and the Quaker community soon purchased land at Summerhill South for a burial ground. The original Quaker Meeting House was built on Grattan Street but when the Quacker population declined in the late nineteenth century, this was sold, and a new, smaller Meeting House was built in 1938 near the burial ground. As the number of Quakers in Cork began growing again in the 1980s and 1990s, this 1938 Meeting House was renovated and extended, with an eye to making the building more accessible and environmentally sustainable.

Saint of the week: Hildegard of Bingen

“Gaze at the beauty of the Earth’s greenings. Now, think.” An eleventh-century  abbess and visionary, writer, composer, and theologian, Hildegard of Bingen was one of the most influential women in the history of Christianity. From a young age Hildegard started seeing visions, which continued as she became a Benedictine nun at around the age of 14. Her visions and work, including three volumes of theologica writing, music, and the morality play Ordo Virtutum, saw her become widely respected during her lifetime. She founded two monasteries, undertook preaching tours, and corresponded with popes and prominent contemporary theologians.
Hildergard authored several works on natural history, and used imagery from the natural world extensively in her theological writing. 
 “The truly holy person welcomes all that is earthly.”
“The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.”
“All of creation is a song of praise to God. Love abounds in all things, excels from the depths to beyond the stars, is lovingly disposed to all things.”
“I am the fiery life of the essence of God; I am the flame above the beauty in the fields; I shine in the waters; I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life.”

Looking ahead.

This Saturday, 18 September, guided tours of the American Cathedral in Paris (23  Avenue George V) are being offered from 16.15 CET as part of the open monuments day (journées du patrimoine).

This Sunday, 19 September, at 10.00 CET a concert of early Renaissance choral work will be held at the English chapel at Zermatt, as part of the Zermatt Festival.

Picture credits. Photo of Cork by Camila Waz; graphic design by European Churches Chronicle.

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