ONE @ 50: Hungarians Gather to Honor Mary

In honor of ONE magazine’s 50th-anniversary year, the CNEWA blog series, ONE @ 50: From the Vault, aims to revive and explore the wealth of articles published in ONE magazine throughout its history. In this month of Mary, read about Hungary’s weeping icon of Máriapócs, published in May 2005.

Read an excerpt from “Hungarians Gather to Honor Mary” below, then read the full story.

As we made the turn for Máriapócs, Father Tamás Horváth pointed out two white-haired women walking along the road. “Pilgrims,” he said. “They’re probably on their way from the train station.” It is less than two miles from the station to Máriapócs, a little Greek Catholic village (population, 2,800) that is Hungary’s most beloved pilgrimage site.

“Walking is a kind of sacrifice offered to Mary,” he added.

It was the second Saturday of September in northeastern Hungary and the weather was perfect. Apples, pears and plums were in season, grapes were on the vine and roses, marigolds and herbs still scented the air. On the following day, Bishop Szilárd Keresztes, Greek Catholic Bishop of Hajdúdorog, would celebrate an open-air liturgy in Máriapiócs to commemorate one of the principal feasts of the Virgin Mary, her Nativity.

For more than three centuries, Máriapócs (formerly the village of Pócs) has been known for its weeping icon of the Virgin Mary. Commissioned in 1676 by a local man who had escaped imprisonment by the Turks, the icon first wept in 1696. Cures and miracles were soon attributed to it. In 1697, by order of the Hapsburg emperor of Austria, the icon was taken to St. Stephen Cathedral in Vienna and replaced with a copy.

The original icon, which remains in Vienna, never again shed tears, but the copy has purportedly wept twice, in 1715 and 1905. Both moments marked periods of hardship in Hungarian history. The first instance marked the Hapsburg army’s defeat of an independence movement led by the Catholic revolutionary Ferenc Rákóczi. And in 1905, Hungary was impoverished, with an estimated 3 million beggars roaming the countryside.

Read more.

Jacqueline Ruyak, a freelance writer, frequently traveled to Central Europe on assignment for ONE.

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