Every year at a time decreed in the Roman Catholic calendar as Pentecost (what does that mean? five fruits and veg?) or possibly Whitsun (and that?), which may or may not be exactly the same thing, I couldn't possibly tell you, Catholics from all over Romania and Hungary converge on Csiksomlyo (the next-door village, effectively a suburb of Csikszereda) for an annual pilgrimage. This weekend is that weekend, and so here they are. Apparently there are normally between 3 and 4 hundred thousand of them for this event, which for a town of 40,000 seriously stretches the resources. I have, in my role as cultural consultant to everyone who bothers to read this, been doing a little research as to why they all come.
Apparently, there is a statue of the virgin Mary in the church at Csiksomlyo (I wish I could tell what the town's name is in Romanian, but I have no idea), which has resisted a lot of stuff. When the Tartars (the blokes who invented that sauce you have with fish) sacked Szekelyland a long time ago, people prayed to this statue, which despite the carnage was left unharmed (this doesn't sound particularly admirable I have to say - a statue with supposedly mythical powers elects to save itself rather than the people who prayed to it). Then after all the battle was over it was seen to cry. They always cry don't they, these religious icons? If they're so bloody amazing why don't they do something useful like fill everybody's heart with love and pacifism or something. I mean, really, what use is crying? Bloody typical.
Still, despite the weak-arsed response to their pleas, people from all over have come to visit and kiss and lay their troubles at it's feet for centuries (no doubt hoping that if it hears of enough suffering it might deign to shed yet another miraculous tear).
In case you really want to read something less sneering here are a couple of articles:
- This one's from something called the Marian Research Institute who sound like a right dodgy bunch of chancers.
- This one's an article about The Csangos who you may remember from a post I made sometime last year in the early innocent days of this blog. Here it is, in case you forgot.
- And finally something from "Catholic Culture", whoever they might be.
And that music I can hear? It's not even part of the pilgrimage. It's the last day of the Harghita County "Days", which celebrates, errrm, Harghita County I guess. We went to a concert the other day which was part of it, and at which I encountered the other Brit in Csikszereda(TM), who seems nice enough despite attempting to take over my patch.