Sastin, September 15 (TASR) – Strict epidemiological measures affected the festivities of Our Lady of Sorrows, the patron saint of Slovakia, with a mere 500 people let in for the central pontifical mass in the national shrine in Sastin (Trnava region) on Tuesday, while only 1,000 were allowed to gather in front of the basilica.
As the Slovak Bishops Conference decided that what is usually a national pilgrimage would be only a parish event this time, only three bishops (all from Bratislava) were present in the gap-filled Baroque basilica, where everyone was wearing face masks.
“There’s probably no stronger image in these moments than that of Mary standing beneath the cross, pierced with a sevenfold sword of sorrow … It’s a moment of raw violence and arrogant mockery by the powerful,” said Metropolitan Archbishop of Bratislava Stanislav Zvolensky in his sermon, before highlighting the need for hope vis-a-vis COVID-19 and beyond.
Among state officials, the mass in the basilica was attended by Prime Minister Igor Matovic (OLaNO) and central bank (NBS) governor Peter Kazimir. Matovic, who on Monday called on the faithful to “opt to attend the pilgrimage via a television broadcast”, as the police would assist with the observance of coronavirus measures, echoed Zvolensky’s call for hope.
“I’ve taken mainly the word ‘hope’ [from the pilgrimage], as mentioned by Archbishop Zvolensky. Slovakia needs hope in these tough times,” Matovic told journalists after the mass.
Held as a ‘commemoration’ by Catholics worldwide, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated as a solemnity (the equivalent of what would formerly be called a Double of the First Class) in Slovakia on September 15, which is also a public holiday in the country.