Pope Francis’ papal trip to Hungary and Slovakia: A visual recap
For the first time since his four-day trip to Iraq in early March, Pope Francis left Italy for an apostolic visit to Hungary and Slovakia. Flying to Budapest, Hungary, on Sept. 12, the pope celebrated Mass at Heroes’ Square to conclude the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress. Prior to the Mass, he met privately with Hungarian President János Áder, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén. Pope Francis also made time to meet with the Hungarian bishops and later with Hungary’s Ecumenical Council of Churches, along with several Jewish communities. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople was among those at the Mass and the meeting with religious leaders.
That evening, Pope Francis flew to Bratislava, Slovakia, where he was greeted by Slovak President Zuzana Caputová. His first stop in the country was to the Slovakia apostolic nunciature, where he met with ecumenical leaders and spoke about religious freedom and unity among Christians, drawing from the example of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who evangelized the Slavic peoples in the ninth century. Among those present at the meeting were Metropolitan Rastislav, head of the Orthodox Church in the Czech and Slovak Republics; Lutheran Bishop Ivan Elko, president of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Slovakia; and Richard Duda, president of the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities. Afterward, Pope Francis met privately with members of the Jesuits in Slovakia.
On Sept. 13, after meeting with government authorities, members of civil society and the diplomatic corps in the garden of the presidential palace, and later with priests, men and women religious, seminarians and catechists at the Cathedral of St. Martin, Pope Francis met with members of Slovakia’s Jewish community in Rybné námestie Square, the site of a memorial tribute to the 105,000 Slovak Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. During the meeting, he told all gathered, “I repeat: let us unite in condemning all violence and every form of anti-Semitism, and in working to ensure that God’s image, present in the humanity he created, will never be profaned.”
The following day, on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the pope flew to Košice, where he celebrated the Byzantine Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom at Mestská športová hala Square in Prešov, where he told the crowd that Christianity without the cross is “sterile.” He also gathered with the Roma community and later with young people at Lokomotiva Stadium before flying back to Bratislava.
On his final day of the trip, Sept. 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the pope was scheduled to share a moment of prayer with bishops at the Basilica of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in Šaštin, where he celebrated Mass with those gathered before returning to Rome.
By the Numbers
62% of Slovakians are Latin-rite Catholics
3.8% of Slovakians are Eastern Catholics
270,000 Slovakians celebrate the Byzantine Greek rite