According to Miklós Soltész, the friendship between Hungary and Poland has improved even further with the fields of church, community and non-governmental relations, and also at the highest level of political relations. The Minister of State from the Prime Minister’s Office spoke to reporters on Monday morning at Budapest’s Keleti Railway Station at the departure of the Black Madonna pilgrimage train to the Shrine of St. Mary in Częstochowa, Poland, which was founded by Hungarian Paulist monks.

“The Poles and Hungarians are linked by a special relationship spanning many centuries, which is difficult to comprehend in view of the fact that we do not understand each other’s languages”, Mr. Soltész highlighted.

“The large number of joint programmes further reinforces this relationship, and one event of this kind is this pilgrimage, which provides insight into many things and is capable of mobilising a high level of spiritual power”, he added.

The Minister of State also spoke about the fact that in 2002, 19 Polish pilgrims on their way to Medugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina lost their lives at Balatonkeresztúr when their bus rolled over in traffic. The tragedy is commemorated at the site by a small and difficult to notice statue of the Virgin Mary.

He told reporters that a few days ago the Hungarian Polish community had presented him with an award, which also included 150 thousand forints in prize money, which he is donating towards the renovation of the memorial to the pilgrims and to the unveiling of a larger statue.

The organisers of the Black Madonna pilgrimage train and the Monks of St. Paul are also joining the initiative.

“The renovation of the memorial is a small gesture that “expresses and further reinforces the spiritual community and solidarity between the two peoples”, Mr. Soltész added.

The spiritual pastor of the pilgrimage train, Bishop of Szolnok County János Székely, spoke about the fact that the history of the two peoples includes many great common figures such as Saint Ladislaus, King of Hungary – whose mother was Polish, Saint Hedwig, perhaps the most popular Polish Queen - István Báthory or József Bem.

“This friendship that links us is one that gives us strength”, he said, adding that this relationship is one of Europe’s greatest treasures, and could serve as a resource for the other peoples living on the continent.

The Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa was founded in 1382 by Hungarian monks from the order of St. Paul. After the Paulist order operating in the territory of the Habsburg Empire was disbanded by Joseph II in 1786, only two monasteries remained, one in Krakow and one in Częstochowa. It was from here that the monks organised their return to Budapest’s Mount Gellért Cave Church and monastery in 1934.

The pilgrimages by train to the Black Madonna at the Shrine of St. Mary in Częstochowa were first organised in 2011 at the initiative of Bishop János Székely.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)