Ceremonial holy mass and Holy Right procession

Location: Budapest, Szent István Square
Time: 20 August 2010, from 5:00 pm

As in earlier years, the ceremonial holy mass will take place on 20 August in front of St. Stephen Basilica, followed by the National Holy Right procession. The liturgy starts at 5 pm, served by Péter Erdő Cardinal, Primate and Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, the Chairman of the Hungarian Catholic Bishop's Conference. The ceremony will be attended by Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

During the procession, monastic orders and orders of knights, acknowledged by the Holy See, apostolic associations and pilgrim groups of various parishes will express their respect to the Holy Right. The holy mass can be also freely attended individually. Those wishing to participate will be registered by the Office of the Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest, which will send all necessary information and tickets to the applicants.

Registration by phone: 06-1 /225-2590/104

History of the Holy Right

The adventurous and miraculous history of the holy right hand of King Stephen, the founder of the Hungarian state, was recorded in contemporary chronicles, and respect to it was first ordered by the 1222 Golden Bull. After his death, the king was buried in St. Stephen Basilica in Székesfehérvár, where the Chapter of the city hid the body in the burial chamber under the basilica in the troublesome years of the pagan rebellions. It was at this time that the right hand was found to be left entirely intact. Miraculous powers were attributed to it; therefore it was detached from the body. The sacred relic was later stolen by the guard of the treasury, who hid it at his estate in Bihar, where King St. László founded the Holy Right Abbey in 1083 to honour our first king and provide a worthy place for the relic.

The Holy Right began its long journey in the 15th century: during the Turkish reign it was first taken to Bosnia, then to Raguza. From there, Maria Theresa had it taken to Vienna and finally entrusted it in the care of the Loreto Sisters of Buda. Simultaneously, she ordered that 20 August, the day of St. Stephen, should be made a national holiday.

During the Second World War the Holy Right was taken away, along with the royal insignia. After 1950 the ceremonial procession and respect for the Holy Right were banned. On 20 August 1987, László Paskai Cardinal, Archbishop of Esztergom sanctified the Holy Right Chapel in St. Stephens Basilica in Budapest, the creation of which was initiated by late László Lékai Cardinal; this is where the relic of our great king found its final resting place, displayed to visitors ever since. In 1988, the 950th anniversary of St. Stephen’s death, the Holy Right began a journey around the country again: tens of thousands of people welcomed the national relic, awe-stricken and enthralled. Since then, the praying procession is held annually on St. Stephen’s day.