The Congress will take place "offline” with the participation of Pope Francis
As COVID-19 infection cases drop across the region, and the numbers of vaccinated people steadily rise, the organizers of the International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest are becoming increasingly hopeful as the event postponed due to the pandemic in 2020 enters rapidly in the very last phase of preparations. The organizers prepare for an offline Congress, where the closing Mass on 12 September will be celebrated by Pope Francis in Heroes’ Square, one of the iconic sights of the Hungarian capital. The visit of the Holy Father sends a strong message as it was 21 years ago the last time when the supreme pontiff, at that time Saint Pope John Paul II, attended an International Eucharistic Congress - in Rome. The Holy See usually is represented by the apostolic nuncio or legate at such global events, and the Pope generally addresses the pilgrims in video messages.
A host of spiritual and cultural programs await the public in Budapest and across the country
The Congress starts on 5 September in Budapest’s Heroes’ Square with a grandiose opening ceremony including the performance of a choir of one thousand singers. This event will also be the opening mass of all Hungarian Catholic schools and a real Eucharistic Celebration, as vast numbers are going to partake of the First Communion on that day.
The main venue for the Congress’ events will be the Hungexpo Exhibition and Fair Center from 6 to 10 September. Testimonials will be given and lectures delivered in addition to the holy masses. Lecturers and pilgrims are expected to arrive from five continents.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma from the Philippines is the one who will travel the longest distance, nearly 11,000 kilometers to be part of this event. Pilgrims will also be able to meet Archbishop of Seoul, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung. He is the first Roman Catholic leader who crossed the border of the North Korean dictatorship as Bishop in May 2014. He also accepted the invitation by Archbishop Piero Marini the president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses who served for decades as Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations of Saint Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Robert Sarah will also be among the guests.
Pilgrims will be able to meet Orani João Tempesta, the “bulletproof” Cardinal, the Archbishop of Rio. The Brazilian Cardinal survived two armed robberies and a street shootout. Many lecturers arrive from countries where the repression or even persecution of Christians is being faced on a daily basis. One of such lecturers is Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, the head of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church.
Several exhibitions, panel discussions, catechism and a number of cultural events, as well as a youth meeting are included on the agenda of the Eucharistic Congress, which will be presented in details on the IEC website.
11 and 12 September Culmination: Torchlight Procession and Papal Visit
Cardinal Péter Erdő Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest will celebrate a Holy Mass on 11 September in Kossuth Square followed by a candle procession to the Heroes’ Square.
The Closing Holy Mass will start on 12 September at 11:30 in Heroes’ Square. According to plans, Pope Francis will be the main celebrant. In addition to the 120-member orchestra of the Hungarian Opera, the Choir of the Opera and a Grand Choir of 2,080 singers arriving from all corners of Hungary will be among the performers.
“Info points” set up all over Budapest will assist interested people. There are already many volunteers contributing to securing the success of the Congress. Accessibility of all events will be ensured. Sign language interpreters will be available.
Register and find out more on the iec2020.hu website. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Photo: Marcsi Ambrus, Vatican News