Memorable programs, memorable people

15 September 2019

The Wonderful Secret of the Matthias Church

Once upon a time in Medieval Hungary, a shepherd boy had a wonderful dream. The figure of the Virgin Mary appeared for him. The boy carved a beautiful statue of Mary, which was then, for a long time, revered and kept in the Church of Our Lady, the church commonly referred to simply as Matthias Church in Buda. Even the Turkish occupying the castle were wary to destroy it and chose instead to erect a wall to surround it.  Legend has it that when the siege for the recapture of Buda was launched in 1686, the cannons caused such violent tremors that the stone walls of the church, converted into a mosque, which guarded the statue of Our Lady of the Hungarians for nearly 145 years, collapsed. When the Madonna appeared, the Turkish soldiers were engulfed by fear. What they assumed was a divine sign, became reality within just hours. The European Christian troops called upon by Pope Innocent XI., liberated the Buda Castle from the Turkish occupation. Among the triumphant soldiers was colonel Dávid Petneházy, a historic figure of considerable esteem among my mother’s relatives. Organised by the Petneházy Foundation, on the 333rd anniversary of the victory, we gathered at the historic sight, the Church of Our Lady, and listened to the Budavári Te Deum, Zoltán Kodály’s heart-warming piece. The ceremonial mass was attended by relatives, as well as by the ambassadors of countries that participated in the glorious battle. And in the side chapel, there is still a very old statue of the Virgin Mary, one, that according to some was the first to welcome the brave soldiers who recaptured the Buda castle.