Papal Visits to Hungary

Hungary was first visited by a pope in 1052, when Pope Leo XI made an appearance at the Castle of Bratislava to broker peace between Andrew I, King of Hungary, and Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor.

On September 13, 1983 St. Pope John Paul II prayed at the crypt of Cardinal József Mindszenty during his pilgrimage to Mariazell; afterwards about 50,000 Hungarian pilgrims attended the papal mass in Trausdorf an der Wulka, Austria, where the Pope specifically addressed his Hungarian followers.

The Pope then visited Hungary in August 1991, immediately after the change in political system in 1989-90. During his five-day visit, he celebrated Holy Mass in Esztergom, Szombathely, Pécs, and, on August 20, in Hero’s Square in Budapest, and also participated in a Greek Catholic liturgy in Máriapócs. He met separately with Hungarian bishops, priests, and members of monastic orders. In the People’s Stadium, the Pope addressed an immense crowd of young people and met with the sick and elderly in St. Stephen’s Basilica. He also visited the Reformed Great Church of Debrecen and even met with leaders of Jewish communities. He talked to the representatives of the sciences and the arts, and met with both state leaders and diplomats. The motto of the visit was “Christ is Our Life”.

At the invitation of Asztrik Várszegi, Archabbot of Pannonhalma, Pope John Paul II visited the Archabbey on September 6 and 7, 1996 on occasion of its thousand-year anniversary, which was his second visit to Hungary. The motto of this visit was “Christ is Our Hope”.

During his apostolic journey to Romania in 2019, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in the saddle above Șumuleu Ciuc, in the shadow of the statue of the Virgin Mary of Șumuleu Ciuc, on May 31 with the participation of thousands of local székelys as well as pilgrims from Transylvania, Partium, Hungary, and other regions.

On September 7, 2021, Pope Francis arrived in Hungary to celebrate the Statio Orbis, the closing mass for the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress. It should be noted that in 1938, Cardinal and State Secretary Eugenio Pacelli attended the 34th International Eucharistic Congress, held in Budapest, in his position as papal legate; the following year, he was elected head of the Apostolic Church as Pope Pius XII; he was accompanied by Archbishop Giovanni Battista Montini, Deputy State Secretary, who followed in St. Peter’s footsteps in 1963 under the name Pope Paul VI.

Achille Ratti, who later served as pope under the name Pius XI, visited Hungary at the end of the 19th century in representation of the Ambrosian Library in Milan, and Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, who would go on to become Pope John XXIII, visited Hungary on two occasions. And, of visits by future popes, we should also mention Karol Józef Wojtyła’s visit to Máriapócs as a young student and the visits (documented by other sources) he made as Archbishop and Cardinal of Krakow to visit Polish migrant workers in Hungary.