The 20th of August is a special celebration in Pannonhalma Abbey, with colorful programs and open gates, reports turizmus.com.
Every year on August 20th, Hungary celebrates the establishment of the Hungarian State and the country’s more than 1,000-year-old history. Hungary’s very first king, King Saint Stephen was the first member of his family to become a devout Christian.
Since 996, the history of our country and the monastery erected in honor of St Martin of Tours has been intertwined. The first abbot brought the Holy Crown from the Pope, with which our first king was crowned. The life of St Stephen was linked to the monastery in many ways, hence 20 August is a special celebration every year at Pannonhalma Abbey, with a varied program of events and open doors.
Although St Stephen is remembered as the founder of the monastery, it was his father, Prince Géza, who settled the first monks on the Holy Mountain. After his death, however, it was left to his son Stephen to build a truly Christian state.
The pagan leader Koppány also claimed power for himself and rebelled. Stephen went to the decisive battle from within the walls of the monastery of Pannonhalma. There he prayed, asked for the intercession of Saint Martin, and vowed that if he defeated the Somogy leader, he would donate the county’s tithe to the monastery. After the victory over Koppány, he fulfilled his vow and granted further privileges to the first monastery in the country, whose foundation thus preceded even the establishment of bishoprics.
Portal of the St Martin Basilica with the base of the tower. Photo: Wikipedia CC
This can be read about in the St Stephen’s Donation Letter preserved in the Archabbey of Pannonhalma. The charter is not only the most precious source of the history of the monastery, but also an invaluable source of the early history of Christian Hungary:
the only surviving charter of St Stephen in an apparently original form is also the earliest Latin-language diploma in Hungary.
The original of the charter is kept in a vault, but a noble copy is on display in the Pannonhalma Abbey Library.
Every year on the feast of King Stephen, the millennial text is performed by an acclaimed theater artist accompanied by an improvisational musician within the walls of the Abbey. This time, the words of King Stephen will be presented to the audience by a lady, the Jászai Mari Prize-winning artist Anikó Für. The musical accompaniment will be provided by Mihály Borbély, a Kossuth and Erkel Ferenc Prize-winning jazz musician.
Another highlight of the celebrations is the traditional St Stephen’s Day organ competition. In St. Martin’s Basilica, organist Magdolna Friedler will present a special selection of music for organ music fans, entitled Reflections. In addition to the great classics of music literature, works by Hungarian composers and improvisations inspired by the Hymn will add to the festive concert.
On 20 August, the Pannonhalma Archabbey complex – St Martin’s Basilica and Cloister, the Pannonhalma Archabbey Library and the Main Monastery Exhibition Hall – will be open to the public free of charge from 9.00-18.00,
except for the announced guided tours of the Fragrance Museum and the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Photo: Facebook/Pannonhalma Élmény – Experience Pannonhalma
The festive Holy Mass will begin at 10 am in St Martin’s Basilica, after which the bone crypt of St Stephen will be presented. The story of the relic’s arrival in Pannonhalma will be told on two other occasions during the day, following the midday service at 13:00 and the evening prayer service at 18:00.
The traditional St Stephen’s Day blessing of the new bread is also part of the program. This will also be held in the Basilica at 11:30. From 10 am to 5 pm, every hour on the hour, there will be a short film and a model-building session for children and adults.
The detailed program is available on the Archabbey’s website.
Featured image: Photo: Facebook/Országos Széchényi Könyvtár