Nitra, July 5 (TASR) – Thousands of people gathered on Svatopluk Square in Nitra on Wednesday to attend the National Pilgrimage of Saints Cyril and Methodius, which is also a national holiday in Slovakia.The ceremonial mass, with Prime Minister Robert Fico and several other Government members in attendance, was celebrated by top representative of the Icelandic Catholic Church, Bishop of Reykjavik David Bartimej Tencer, who comes from Slovakia.
In what was viewed by many of those present as an unusual sermon, with laughter heard several times among the pilgrims, Tencer called on the faithful not only to guard, but also to develop the “heritage of the fathers”, as is the traditional slogan of the feast.
The festive service on Svatopluk Square was reinforced by the renewal of Slovakia’s consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, which was carried out for the first time 70 years ago at the Marian pilgrimage site of Stare Hory (Banska Bystrica region) by then Archbishop of Nitra Karol Kmetko.
“We aren’t renewing our consecration in order to return to 1947. Let’s update it, let’s make it new and effective for our times. By this consecration, we want to promise God that we’ll live Christianity in the current world and in current ways in order to make our Christianity also appealing to people who don’t have much in common with the faith,” said Tencer in the sermon.
“God is also acting in our times via the Church, while we, the people, are the Church. Each of us should bear out piece of responsibility,” said Tencer, adding that the faithful shouldn’t rely only on Church figures and other authorities to do things that they actually should do themselves.
The annual July national pilgrimages in Nitra were renewed after the fall of Communism in November 1989, taking place as of July 1990 on Calvary hill at the initiative of Cardinal Jan Chryzostom Korec. His successor as Bishop of Nitra Viliam Judak moved the celebrations to the cathedral at Nitra Castle in 2006, but due to mass attendance each year, he eventually transferred it to Svatopluk Square in the city centre. The home bishop invites a different bishop each year to preside over the festivities.