In Košice – with the Catholics and the Orthodox

Early morning Thursday, on September 6th, Our Blessed Mother during Her peregrination in Slovakia, visited a most beautiful gothic-baroque style Seminary Church of St. Anthony of Padua in the center of Košice, where a large group of Slovakian priests were just finishing their retreat.  The Sacrifice of the Holy Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop Bernard Bober, the Metropolitan of Košice.  He called on all the priests and lay faithful to take on the responsibility for the faith and for the image of the Church in the modern world.  He spoke of great temptations against the faith, with which we are all faced.  He recalled the three martyrs of Košice from the 17th century, who shed their blood for their faith and their great love for Christ, His Church, and their loyalty to the Holy Father.  He also illustrated the example of the Saints Cyril and Methodius, who were people of strong faith, and who encouraged their spiritual sons and daughters to always maintain a pure heart and conscience.  "The vessel of our faith - which is also the symbol of the upcoming Year of the Faith - we can only protect in the port, otherwise we are risking our own demise.  Stella Maris – our heavenly Mother will keep us on the right course, and our Church will not lose the light of Christ and the sins of this world will never fully overshadow it," summarized Archbishop B. Bober.

In the afternoon, Our Lady went to visit the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, belonging to the Greek Catholic Church in Slovakia, of the Archeparchy of Prešov.  The Icon was received and greeted by Archbishop Milan Chautur, the eparch of Košice.  He welcomed the coordinators of the peregrination very warmly in his own residence.  In the evening, the Icon was brought to Prešov, the third largest city in Slovakia.  There, in the Greek Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Our Lady in the Icon of Czestochowa was greeted very solemnly.  Vast crowds of people came for the evening Liturgy out of love for Our Blessed Mother.  The pastor of the Cathedral recalled the history of the Icon, the story of the peregrination "From Ocean to Ocean," as well as encouraged to pray for the next country that Our Lady will be visiting, in this case – Hungary.

The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Ján Babiak SJ, the Metropolitan of Prešov.  The Bishop Emeritus, Most Reverend Ján Eugen Kočiš and twenty other priests concelebrated.  During his homily, Fr. Ľubomír Petrík said, "The Most Holy God-bearer is the second Eve, but She is not only the Mother of the Living, but also the Mother of Life, because She has brought forth the Savior, Jesus Christ, into the world.  Adam and Eve have led people towards death, because they believed the word of the Evil One.  The Mother of God leads people towards life, because She believed the Word of God, Who took flesh in Her.  (…)  Mary points us to Her Son, the Word of God, Who has great power.  (…)  The Words of Jesus, which the Apostles believed, changed into bread.  All ate and were filled.  Let us not allow ourselves to be deceived, even though the atmosphere around us is saturated with sentiments against life.  If we put our trust in God's Word, there will be enough bread for all.  Let us not be afraid to open ourselves up to life."  At the closing of the celebration of the Liturgy, Archbishop Ján Babiak, on behalf of all present, renewed the Act of the Entrustment of the Protection of the Civilizatioof Life and Love to Our Lady.  He remarked that "the word civilization is in itself positive, but in the case of the overwhelming propaganda of death, we need to talk rather in terms of a "death plague," to which we become witnesses in the modern world.  Yet, we are called to life and to its protection.  That is why the Queen, to whom we fly for protection, is here with us, - She is not only the Queen of Poland, but of the entire world."

After the Liturgy had ended, the Icon was transported to the Orthodox Cathedral of St. Prince Alexander Nevsky in Prešov, where, after the hymn "Victorious Queen," dedicated to the Icon of Czestochowa, was sung, the nightlong prayer vigil began.