Tens of thousands of believers made their way on Saturday to the shrine built in the pass between the Kis and Nagysomlyó mountains to participate in the Pentecost Pilgrimage of Csíksomlyó/Sumuleu Ciuc.
The centuries-old tradition, which has become a significant religious and national holiday for many Hungarians, usually brings more than half a million pilgrims each year from Transylvania and around the world. Last year, however, only a private mass was allowed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As the country has slowly eased the restrictions imposed to stop the deadly virus, believers were able to gather at the shrine for this year’s Pentecost Mass, which is a huge step toward normalcy. Many pilgrims arrived in traditional clothes, some on horseback, and some walked long distances to once again feel the sunshine and wind on their foreheads and listen to the open-air Mass celebrated this year by József Salamon, a Catholic priest from Gyimesbükk/Ghimeș-Făget. In 2019, Pope Francis celebrated the Pentecost Mass in front of hundred thousand people.
Hungarians gathering at the shrine for sacred recharge once again demonstrated that it is possible to respect the rules and stay safe even in the shadow of COVID-19. Check out our photo coverage of the biggest Catholic celebration in Central and Eastern Europe through the lens of our photographer Vajk István Szigeti.