Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has held a private meeting with Pope Francis, who has arrived in Hungary for a three-day apostolic visit, Bertalan Havasi, the Prime Minister’s press chief, told MTI.
During the meeting, Mr Orbán recalled that,
as our Fundamental Law states, Christianity has a nation-saving power in Hungary.
Without Christianity, Hungary would not exist today, he pointed out, adding that Hungary has a future if it stays on the Christian path, and the Christian path is today the path of peace.
The Pope’s white Fiat 500X car was escorted to Szent György Square by three hussars on horseback from the Count Ferenc Nádasdy Hussars to the sound of the Hertelendy march.
On the square, members of the Hungarian delegation and the Vatican delegation, arriving ahead of the papal convoy, as well as the 32nd Regiment of the Guard, the riders of the Count Ferenc Nádasdy Hussars, the National Equestrian Decorations Unit and the Little Hussars of Fonyod awaited the leader of the Catholic Church.
The orchestra played the official papal and Hungarian anthems, and the Pope and the President of the Republic sat down on the prepared chairs. The procession then passed in front of them.
At the end of the military reception, Katalin Novák presented the state delegation to the Holy Father, and the Pope also presented the Vatican delegation to the Hungarian Head of State; the two exchanged direct words several times during the event.
The Hungarian delegation included Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament László Kövér, President of the Constitutional Court Tamás Sulyok, President of the Constitutional Court Zs. András Varga, President of the Curia, Péter Polt, Attorney General, Zsolt Semjén, Deputy Prime Minister, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, János Csák, Minister of Culture and Innovation, Tibor Navracsics, Minister of Regional Development, Eduard Habsburg-Lotharingian, Ambassador of Hungary to the Vatican.
Afterwards, the Pope, accompanied by the President of the Republic, Katalin Novák, entered the Sándor Palace, where he signed the guest book and was presented with gifts by the Head of State.
The Pope and the President of Hungary will hold a private meeting in the Sándor Palace as part of an official meeting of the Heads of State, before meeting Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the Carmelite Monastery. Afterwards, also at the Carmelite Monastery, he will meet with representatives of the state authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps.
Pope Francis briefly greeted the young people after the meeting with the President of the Republic in a video posted on the social media page of President Novák Katalin on Friday afternoon. The video shows the Holy Father and the head of state together, with Pope Francis saying in Spanish: “Welcome young people!”
Among other things, Katalin Novák presented Pope Francis with a children’s art album, made especially for the Holy Father, featuring biblical-themed works by Hungarian children and young people.
In addition to the album, the Pope will also receive special rose petals of the rose variety named after St. Elizabeth, bred by a Hungarian from Transylvania.
“Saint Elizabeth of the House of Árpád is known in the Pope’s native Argentina as Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (Santa Isabel de Hungría), in whose hands, according to legend, bread turned into roses,” the President wrote on his Facebook page earlier about the gift.
As a third gift, the President of the Republic presented the Catholic head of church with a Marian Andalusian vestment. Katalin Novák had earlier informed on her Facebook page: During his visit to the Somogy county, the faithful of Andocs asked him to give their gift to Pope Francis, who elevated the church to the rank of basilica minor.
“The church in Andocs is a special place where the faithful come to pray for the blessing of children. It is an old custom for the faithful whose prayers are answered to donate a fancy dress to the church in gratitude,” the head of state said in his post, adding that the Virgin Mary vestments also recalled that King Stephen, the founder of the state, dedicated the country to Mary before his death.
The President of the Republic also presented Pope Francis with a booklet on the Holy Crown and a copy of the Fundamental Law.