outbrain
Close  

Pope braves rain-soaked mountain roads for Transylvania Mass

/ 07:30 AM June 02, 2019

MIERCUREA CIUC, Romania – Pope Francis braved a rain-soaked, twisting drive through the mountains of Transylvania on Saturday to visit Romania’s most famous shrine, urging Romanian and ethnic Hungarian faithful to work together for their future.

Storms forced Francis to change his travel plans and add in a three-hour car ride through the Carpathian mountains that he had planned to traverse via helicopter.

ADVERTISEMENT

The steady rains doused the estimated 80,000-100,000 people who gathered for the Mass at the Sumuleu Ciuc shrine, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

 Pope braves rain-soaked mountain roads for Transylvania Mass

Pope Francis is driven through the crowd as he arrives for a meeting with young people and families, in Iasi, Romania, Saturday, June 1, 2019. Francis began a three-day pilgrimage to Romania on Friday that in many ways is completing the 1999 trip by St. John Paul II that marked the first-ever papal visit to a majority Orthodox country. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

The showers let up as Francis arrived and he made a quick run through the poncho-clad crowds in his pope mobile.

FEATURED STORIES

But the 82-year-old seemed unsteady after the long trip and held onto the arms of aides as he negotiated a mud-slicked path to get to the altar for Mass.

In his homily, Francis praised the multicultural and multilingual tapestry that makes up Romania and urged its people to put aside past divisions for the sake of “journeying together.”

The rights of around 1.2 million ethnic Hungarians who live in Romania have been at the center of political disputes between the two countries for decades.

Hungary lost Transylvania in the peace treaties after World War I yet the region remains heavily Hungarian in both culture and language.

Those tensions are often reflected in the uneasy relationship between the predominantly Hungarian Roman Catholic community and the Romanian-speaking Greek-Catholic communities.

The two rites make up Romania’s Catholic minority in the overwhelmingly Orthodox country.

“Complicated and sorrow-filled situations from the past must not be forgotten or denied, yet neither must they be an obstacle or an excuse standing in the way of our desire to live together as brothers and sisters,” Francis said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The pope delivered the homily in Italian, and it was translated into Romanian and Hungarian.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass at the Marian shrine, in Sumuleu Ciuc, Romania, Saturday, June 1, 2019. Francis began a three-day pilgrimage to Romania on Friday that in many ways is completing the 1999 trip by St. John Paul II that marked the first-ever papal visit to a majority Orthodox country. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

After Mass, with the weather improved, Francis was able to fly by helicopter back to the airport for a flight to another corner of Romania, the university city of Iasi in the northeast.

There he had an appointment with young Romanians and their families.

“It is a joy, it is a joy,” said 71-year old Elisabeta Balan, the mother of 11 children who was among those chosen to address the pope in Iasi.

“We are very happy that he comes in Iasi and for this occasion we succeeded in bringing our big family together.”

Francis was travelling across Romania to visit its far-flung Catholic communities. His trip aimed to make up for the fact that St. John Paul II was only allowed to visit the capital, Bucharest, in 1999 in the first papal visit to a majority Orthodox country.

On Sunday, Francis travels to the Greek-Catholic stronghold of Blaj to meet with people from the disadvantaged Roma minority. He also plans to beatify seven bishops who were martyred during a brutal period of communist persecution in Romania, then return to Rome. /gg

Read Next
EDITORS' PICK
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Catholic, lates news, mass, Pope, rains, Romania, storm, Transylvania, world news
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.