Memorable programs, memorable people

10 January 2018

The Possibility of Freedom

“I have shaped my life in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council: love, openness, acceptance, dialogue – all of which, I believe, characterise Jesus and Christian people”, said Asztrik Várszegi, Archabbot of Pannonhalma in an interview upon his withdrawal from the leadership of the archabbey. My husband and I have on numerous occasions experienced his sense of humour, directness and comprehensive knowledge, so we were pleased to host him at the dinner in his honour. The Archabbot believes that Pannonhalma offers the possibility for freedom: his way of thinking has left a visible trace over the past quarter of a century or so. It was under his leadership that the cathedral was fully refurbished and the model farms, which formed parts of the monastery already during the Middle Ages were revived. The establishment of the herbs garden, the restitution of the vineyard, as well as the development of the wine business and the opening of the restaurant are all linked to his name. On the day of St Martin, patron saint of the abbey, Asztrik Várszegi thus said goodbye: “The wisdom of the Benedictine tradition dictated to my heart what is also written in our house rules, that the older should yield his position to the younger one. This is what I gladly do and I am saying goodbye, so that I will remain there for all of you not as archabbot but as a good friend.”