Venue: Budapest, Szent István tér
Time: 5.00 p.m. 20 August 2012

Similar to previous years, the ceremonial holy mass and the ensuing National Procession of the Holy Right Hand will be held on 20 August, outside St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest. The liturgy beginning at 5.00 p.m. will be conducted by Péter Erdő, Primate of Hungary, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, President of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe. The sermon will be delivered by György Jakubinyi, Archbishop of Gyulafehérvár.

As part of the procession, monastic orders and orders of knighthood recognised by the Holy See, societies of apostolic life and the pilgrim groups of parishes may proceed before the Holy Right Hand. The holy mass may also be attended individually. Those intending to take part in the procession will be registered by the Esztergom-Budapest Archdiocesan Office which will forward the relevant information as well as tickets allowing admission to applicants.

Attendance requests: At the address of the Archdiocesan Office: 1250 Bp. Pf. 1; Fax: +36 1 202-5458; E-mail: QrlUHRirueA9ZVcgzNmMgYXVndXN6dHVzMjBAZXN6dGVyZ29taS1lcnNla3NlZy5odQ==

History of the Holy Right Hand

The adventurous and miraculous history of the Holy Right Hand of our King Stephen, Founder of the State, was preserved in contemporary chronicles, and the Golden Bull was the first to provide for its veneration in 1222. After his death, the King was interred at the Székesfehérvár St. Stephen’s Basilica where the Fehérvár chaplain hid the body in the burial vault under the Basilica during the years of pagan riots. It was then that they noticed that the right hand had remained completely intact, and because they attributed miraculous strength to the hand, it was severed from the body. The guard of the treasury later misappropriated the holy relic and hid it at his Bihar estate where, in honour and for the glory of our first king, St. Ladislaus established the Holy Right Hand Abbey in 1083 as a worthy custodian of the relic.

The travels of the Holy Right Hand began in the 15th century; during the Turkish occupation, it was initially taken to Bosnia and later to Ragusa from where, after lengthy diplomatic negotiations, Maria Theresa had it transported to Vienna, and later placed it in the care of Mary Ward’s nuns in Buda. At the same time, she ordered that the day of St. Stephen, 20 August, be declared a national holiday.

The ornamental reliquary, in which the Holy Right Hand is displayed also at present, was ordered by the Hungarian Episcopacy 150 years ago, in 1862.

During World War II, the Holy Right Hand, together with the coronation regalia, was removed. As of 1950, the ceremonial procession and the veneration of the Holy Right Hand were banned. Cardinal László Paskai, Archbishop of Esztergom, consecrated the Holy Right Hand chapel in the Budapest St. Stephen’s Basilica on 20 August 1987. The chapel was initiated by the late Cardinal László Lékai. This is where the relic of our great king rests now and may be viewed ever since. On the 950th anniversary of St. Stephen’s death, in 1988 the procession of the Holy Right Hand was once again given permission to set out; tens of thousands of people received the national relic with awe and piety. Since then, the begging procession has set out on St. Stephen’s day year after year.