The Communist-era dissident Milan Balabán has died at the age of 89. A
theologian, Evangelical pastor and poet, he was considered one of the Czech
Republic’s leading religious thinkers.
In the 1950s Balabán – who was born in what is today Ukraine – joined a group of Evangelical theologians named Nová orientace (New Orientation), which pushed for reforms in Czechoslovakia. He later signed the Charter 77 protest document.
He lost his license to serve as a cleric in the mid-1970s and was forced to do manual labour, including working for the operators of the Prague sewer system.
Christians around the world are celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. But what would it look like if Jesus was born today, in the 21st century, in the Czech town of Beroun? This paraphrase of the birth of Jesus and other Biblical stories retold and reimagined can be found in a newly published book called Parabible. Its author is Alexandr Flek, a publisher, theologian and the chief translator of the modern Czech Bible version, Bible 21.
For centuries, Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral, a symbol of Czech statehood, lacked a suitable pipe organ whose sound would fill its monumental space. Now, nearly 700 years after construction began, the cathedral is set to get a huge new organ. More than 74 million crowns have already been raised in a public collection to build the instrument.
Thanks to Steven Spielberg, the story of Oskar Schindler and the twelve hundred Jews he saved during World War II is well known. But not many people know that the factory where he employed them still stands. It is in the village of Brněnec, north of the Czech Republic’s second city of Brno, and for many years it has stood derelict. There has been a lot of talk of saving the building and turning it into a museum and memorial, and the latest initiative comes from members of the Low-Beer family, who owned the factory until 1938 when they had to flee
The Czech Jewish community in Prague is celebrating the start of Chanukah
which this year starts on December 2nd and ends on December 10th.
On Dec 6th representatives of the Jewish community, cultural figures and diplomats will attend the traditional lighting of the Menorah on Jan Palach square, just outside the historic Jewish Quarter of Prague.
The Menorah lighting ceremony was established in 2006 by one of Prague’s Jewish congregations. This year the Menorah is to be decorated with a Czech flag marking the centenary of the birth of Czechoslovakia.
In 1941, Nazi Germany turned the centuries-old Czech garrison town of Terezín into a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp. Over the next few years, some 155,000 people were held there in desperate conditions awaiting transport to the death camps further east. And yet, there was a well-documented flourishing of cultural life in the ghetto. Many artists also risked their lives to depict the harsh reality of daily life. But this is a story of the traces left behind by more ordinary people who endured those extraordinary times.
The Czech Republic is for the first time celebrating Red Wednesday, a
global event whose goal is to remember those who cannot practise their
faith freely throughout the world.
In a show of solidarity, a number of churches, synagogues and other religious sites throughout the country will be illuminated in red during the evening. In Prague, these include the St. Nicholas Church on Old Town Square and the Old-New Synagogue in Josefov, the historic Jewish quarter.
A conference on the role of religion in society is also underway in Prague, attended by representatives of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the pontifical foundation that launched the Red Wednesday initiative in support of persecuted Christians.
A new altar at Prague’s 1930s Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord
has been blessed. The altar, designed by architects Josef Pleskot and
Norbert Schmidt, was consecrated by Bishop Zdenek Wasserbaur during a
ceremony on Saturday evening.
The Roman Catholic church, which is located in the Vinohrady district, was designed by Slovene architect Jože Plečnik, who was also responsible for a number of other significant projects in Prague.
The new apostolic nuncio to the Czech Republic, Charles Daniel Balvo, is
set to arrive in the Czech Republic on Thursday. The American, who has
already served at the Prague nunciature, was appointed to the post by Pope
Francis in September of this year. He will replace Giuseppe Leanza, who has
served as apostolic nuncio to the Czech Republic for the past seven years.
Mr Balvo will be the fifth papal nuncio to the Czech Republic since 1990. Among his first tasks will be to choose candidates to replace Cardinal Dominik Duka in the post of Prague Archbishop, when his term in office expires.
Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo, who was appointed the new papal nuncio to the
Czech Republic, is expected to arrive in Prague on November 22nd. He will
be met at Prague airport by Cardinal Dominik Duka.
Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo was ordained priest in 1976 in New York. He entered the diplomatic corps of the Holy See a year later.
He has served in the nunciatures in Ghana, Ecuador, Chile, the Czech Republic, Jordan and Lithuania. He speaks English, Italian, Spanish, French and Czech.
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