The Church in the Czech Republic on July 5th celebrated the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Sts. Cyril and Methodius to the Great Moravian Empire in the year 863. Velehrad is in southern Moravia, and is the location from which the brothers from Thessaloniki based their work to evangelize the Slavic peoples.
Velehrad: The event was also attended by large number of foreign visitors, among them pilgrims from Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Hungary, and Slovenia. Concelebrating with Cardinal Bozanić were bishops of the Czech Republic as well as several prelates from abroad – besides the countries already mentioned, they came from Germany, Ukraine, and Russia as well. Representatives of the civil authorities were also present, among them President of the Czech Republic Miloš
Welcomed by a huge applause, Cardinal Bozanić addressed the gathering in Czech language.
“It is with great joy that I arrived here in Velehrad to celebrate with you such a significant jubilee as a legate of Pope Francis,” he said in the opening of the mass. In his homily he mentioned his mission of a papal legate again and said: “I wish to testify to the warm affection of the Holy Father to the beloved Church in the Czech Republic as well as to all the pilgrims from neighboring countries who venerate Ss. Cyril and Methodius. Pope Francis rejoices in the celebrations of the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Ss. Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia, he greets all the gathered here and blesses you all.”
He then spoke about the relations among the Church in the Czech Republic and in Croatia.
“Our culture would be much poorer if not enriched by Czech priests and by many places where our two nations have met,” he said. Finally he entrusted all the pilgrims to Virgin Mary and ended his homily with the words: “God bless you, your families and your country as well as all the people of good will.”
People gathered in Velehrad were also addressed by the Pope himself – through a message the Holy Father sent to Cardinal Dominik Duka, archbishop of Prague, on the occasion of the celebrations. In this text, Pope Francis recalls the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Ss. Cyril and Methodius and states:
“Remembrance of this significant event that left its indelible marks on the history, arts as well as the entire culture of your country appeals especially to the faithful; however, it offers an opportunity for the entire nation to deepen this precious heritage rooted in the mission work of the saint brothers from Thessaloniki.”
In the end of the mass, traditional awards of the Czech Bishops’ Conference were bestowed on the laureates of this year. The “Order of Ss. Cyril and Methodius” was conferred to Prof. Fr. Petr Piťha, composer František Emmert, and musician Jiří Pavlica; commemorative medal of the Czech Bishops’ Conference was awarded to liturgist Prof. Fr. Jan Matějka, writer Miloš Doležal, and Honorary Consul General of the Czech Republic in West, Texas – Raymond J. Snokhous together with his wife Clarice Marik Snokhous.
Author: Jiří Gračka