Papal Visit

One million expected at the first ever Papal visit to Transylvania

To facilitate the organization of the Papal Visit to Csíksomlyó/Șumuleu Ciuc (on 1. June), Hargita County Council decided to allocate RON one million ($240,000) from its budget for the Franciscan friars, county council president Csaba Borboly said. Each year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims come to Székelyföld, to the Csíksomlyó Saddle, on Pentecost Saturday to participate on the largest religious and ritual event of Catholics in the Carpathian Basin, on the Pentecost Pilgrimage of Csíksomlyó. But this year Pope Francis, as the first Pope ever, will visit Csíksomlyó one week before Pentecost, and because of his visit even more pilgrims are expected than usual. According to some estimates their number may reach one million.

The organizers and the council have five month to prepare to welcome the pilgrims, and because of their expected extraordinary high number they also encourage local families in Hargita county to host them in their own home. 80 international journalists are also expected from all over the world and among many other things, their hosting costs will be also covered from the above-mentioned fund.

Important news for the believers is that the Papal Visit was declared to be a votive pilgrimage this week by archbishop György Jakubinyi, which means that participating at the Pope’s mass, would count the same as participating at the Pentecost Pilgrimage itself. This is a big help for those pilgrims who are not from the area, and who have to travel hundreds or even thousands of kilometers to Csíksomlyó, and would not be able to attend both events.

“Because this year the 453. Pentecost Pilgrimage of Csíksomlyó will take place on 8. June, only one week after the Pope’s Visit, I declare the day of the Papal Visit also a votive pilgrimage, so the pilgrims of the Papal Visit can also fulfill the ancestors’ pledge”, György Jakubinyi wrote  in his circular.

Earlier – right after the official announcement of the Pope’s Visit – it even occurred bringing forward the pilgrimage by a week to celebrate the two events together, but the archdiocese finally decided that even though Pope Francis’ visit is certainly a historical event, they also have to stay true to the heritage of their ancestors, who have been holding their pilgrimage for more than four and half century each year at Pentecost.

The Pope could not have scheduled his visit for Pentecost because as the Bishop of Rome he has to be in his home diocese at that time.


Title image: Pentecost Pilgrimage of Csíksomlyó (source: www.magasbol.ro)

Author: Attila Szoó