Pope Francis blessed the mission cross of the International Eucharistic Congress

20 November 2017

On 20th November the so-called ad limina apostolorum, the official visit of the Hungarian bishops in Rome began. The first act of the meeting was the blessing of the mission cross of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress.

On the meeting at 9:30 along with His Holiness Pope Francis, Archbishop Piero Marini, the president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses; Vittore Boccardi, the secretary of the committee; the members of the Hungarian Bishops' Conference, the Hungarian priests and seminarists studying in Rome and the members of the Secretariat of the IEC also participated. Cardinal Péter Erdő, the Primate of Hungary introduced the story and the symbolism of the cross to Pope Francis, and asked for the Holy Father's blessing upon the cross, which will start its mission journey around the Carpathian basin within a few months' time. Pope Francis was happy to fulfil this request.

The cross was designed back in 2007 for the Mission on the City. The approximately five metres tall oak-wood cross with bronze linings was made by the goldsmith Csaba Ozsvári (1963-2009), and it is kept in the Cathedral of Esztergom. Its floral ornamentations recall the motives of the goldsmith works of the time of the Hungarian Conquest.

This cross is not only a unique piece of craftsmanship, but also a reliquary. In the centre of the cross, in a silver holder you can find the relic of the Holy Cross, and abound it embedded in the leaves there are the relics of the Hungarian Saints. The cross was first exhibited on the occasion of the Mission on the City in Budapest in 2007, since then it is kept in the northern apex of the Cathedral of Esztergom. In the last ten years the metal parts of the cross have become oxidized, so the restoration turned out to be necessary. The works of cleaning and conserving were done by the goldsmith and restorer János Szabó, who also was present by the birth of the cross. During the restoration they managed to remove the corrosion layer by rinsing, brushing, grinding and polishing. As a final act the restorer brushed the dried parts with airtight lacquer, so the bronze ornaments will keep their shining for years. During the reassembling on the spot the relics of five new Hungarian Saints and blessed - St. Martin, Blessed Gisella, Blessed Tódor Romzsa, Blessed Vilmos Apor, Blessed Zoltán Meszlényi - were also added to enrich the mission cross, which was now transported in a special holder into the Vatican, where Pope Francis blessed it.