00 9/24/2009 11:46 AM

Posted earlier in the BENEDICT thread.

A trip in history to rediscover
the Christian roots of Europe

by Mario Ponzi
Translated from
the 9/23/09 issue of

PRAGUE - Only the last details are lacking, but Prague is ready to receive Benedict XVI, the second Pope to visit the land of the Bohemians and Moravians.

In the Church of St. Mary of Victory, the vestments of the image of the Infant Jesus of Prague are freshly pressed. The Cathedral dedicated to St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert has been completely re-scoured.

The great altar on the field adjoining the airport of Brno has been completed, and the great iron Cross which will be left there to commemorate the visit has been set into place.

And in Stara Boleslaw, they have completely prepared the esplanade along Melnik road that will hold at least 100,000 persons expected for the papal Mass to be celebrated at the site of St. Wenceslas's martyrdom.

Yesterday, Sept. 22, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican press office director, explained details of the Pope's program in the Czech Republic.

He recalled that this will be the fourth time the Czech Republic welcomes a Pope. Papa Wojtyla made three trips - in 1990, 1995 and 1997.

Even for Benedict XVI, it will be a second visit. On March 30, 1992, he was in Prague as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to take part in a seminar on the Catechism of the Church.

He gave a lecture entitled "That God may be everything in everyone: Christian faith in eternal life".

Benedict XVI's visit to the Czech Republic - his 13th trip as Pope outside Italy - will take place From Sept. 26-28.

He will arrive in Prague on Saturday, Sept. 26, at the international airport Stara Ruzyne. It has some historical significance for the Czechs. Like many other places in this land, it has been a theater of confrontation and encounter of all the good and all the bad that has marked this nation's history.

Through this airport, all who had been forced to flee various dominations returned from exile to reanimate the life of the nation in re-found freedom. It was also from this airport that the Soviet army came in to occupy Prague.

Nearby are two other places that are equally symbolic. On the one hand, the Benedictine monastery of Brevnov, founded by St. Adalbert in 993, remains as testimony to a millennary effort to promote culture in the land, besides being a symbol of its Christian roots.

On the other hand, there is the prison of Ruzyne, symbol of totalitarianism and the cruelty of totalitarian regimes, but also of the spiritual strength of those who opposed it. Here, tbe students who rebelled in 1939 were massacred, and in the 1950s, this is where enemies of the regime were interrogated.

After the welcome ceremony, Benedict XVI will proceed to the Church of Our Lady of of Victory, which houses the image of the Infant Jesus of Prague, who has a worldwide following of devotion. That is why the Church is always full of foreign pilgrims. Here, the Pope will meet with a group of families.

After a brief rest at the Apostolic Nunciature - his residence during his three-day visit - the Pope will pay a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic at the presidential residence in the world-famous Prague Castle.

After meeting the President, he will meet with the civilian and political authorities and the members of the diplomatic corps.

Afterwards, the Pope will walk to the Cathedral of Prague - part of the monumental complex and 200 meters away from the Castle - to celebrate Vespers, his last event on Day 1.

The Cathedral of Prague is an imposing Gothic edifice which in its present form dates back to 1334. A project of the King of Bohemia, Charles IV, it was executed by the architects Mattia di Arras and Pietro Parler. The Kings of Bohemia rest in its crypt, along with
Czech patron saints Wenceslas, John Nepomuceno, and Adalbert.

It was last restored in 1929 for the millennial anniversary of St. Adalbert. Today, the cathedral is dedicated to Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert.

The following morning, Sunday, the Pope will go to Brno, the Republic's second largest city, capital of Moravia. It is also the Czech city with the greatest number of Catholics.

On a large field adjoining the airport, the Pope will celebrate the mass of the XXVI Sunday in ordinary time. He will return to Prague after the Mass.

In the afternoon, he will have two meetings. The first will be with representatives of other religions. This will take place in the Throne Room of the Archbishop's Palace, where he will receive representatives of the ecumenical council.

Afterwards, he will return to Prague Castle, about 300 meters from the Archbishop's Palace, where, in Vladislavsky Hall, he will meet with representatives of the academic world. They will include the rectors of Czech universities and representatives of their professors and students.

On Monday morning, September 28, which is the Czech National Day, the Pope will travel by car to nearby Stara Boleslaw to celebrate the Solemnity of St. Wenceslas in the place where he was martyred, a destination for annual pilgrimages to a place many Czechs consider to symbolize the birth of their nation.

Before celebrating Mass, the Pope will visit the Church of St. Wenceslas, erected on the place where he was killed by his own brother Boleslaw. [Strange that the place is named after the assassin, not the saint!]

In the Church, he will meet with about 20 old priests invited by the Czech bishops' conference.

After the Mass, a youth representative will greet the Pope in the name of his colleagues, to start the part of the program reserved for the Pope to meet the youth.

The Holy Father will return to Prague in time for lunch with the Czech bishops at the Archbishop's Palace.

He will leave for Rome in the afternoon, after a farewell ceremony at the airport. He is expected to be back in Castel Gandolfo by 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Office of Liturgical Celebrations has posted online the missal for the Czech trip. The principal language used is Latin.