New Year's Speech of Cardinal Dominik Duka OP, Archbishop of Prague

3. 1. 2013

1) Hopefully, nobody will get scared of the thirteen at the end of the year. I am not sure if the appeal for the Year of Faith, which was pronounced by Pope Benedict XVI, should encourage us. As Martin Komárek writes in his book titled "God Does not Know the Future", it is not possible to live without faith, act and work without faith. Thus, I think that the Pope had a good idea. Faith in God is the only way leading to understanding, both to one another and to the world and the universe. Václav Havel so often spoke about meaningfulness of our life. We parted on 11th November 2011 with words, "We know that He is."

2) For our world of Central Europe, or for Great Moravia, whose tradition even the Czech state picked up the threads of, next year means the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius. For more than two years, we have been preparing, so that we would celebrate this event in a dignified and useful way. It brought us on the map of the cultured world when a new state emerged beyond the Roman border. The translation of the Bible, of the Scriptures and the script, the alphabet, the legal code, new architecture and the institute for education and tution of priests, these are the beginnings of our scholarship.

3) Our rulers referred to the Cyrillo-Methodian Great Moravian statehood. Both the first king Vladislaus, and in the case of Ottokar II of Bohemia, the Olomouc bishop Bruno von Schauenburg, the Vysehrad provost and chancellor of the kingdom, asked for an imperial crown for the Czech king. They always did so with reference to the baptism of Prince Bořivoj and his wife Saint Ludmila, Saint Wenceslas' grandma. A beautiful testimony to it is Alphonse Mucha's window in the Cathedral, in the new chapel of Prague archbishops, where, twenty years, ago, Cardinal František Tomášek found the place of his eternal rest.

4) Our Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert, as its ancient name suggests, hides a great testimony to our religious, cultural and political history. There are graves of saints, of Saints Vitus, Wenceslas, Adalbert, Zikmund and the most well known Czech saint, Saint John of Nepomuk. I met with him also during my November visit to the Peruvian Cusco, in one of the most beautiful cathedrals of the world. Apart from saints, also our princes and kings are buried here, as well as both emperors Charles IV and Rudolph II. On the external triforium, there are busts of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the oldest depiction of our missionaries.

5) The father of the nation is not only the main creator of the Saint Wenceslas' tradition but also one of the creators of the Cyrillo-Methodian tradition. Both traditions were connected by means of the Old Boleslav palladium, a medaillon of the Virgin Mary, which is, in accordance with a legend, a baptismal gift of Saint Bishop Methodius to Saint Ludmila. Shortly after the establishment of the Archbishopric, Saint Wenceslas together with the archbishop, Arnost of Pardubice, proclaims our missionaries, Saints Cyril and Methodius, patrons of the Czech kingdom and founds an altar in the cathedral for them. He establishes their common feast on 9th March, which was a day when his mother, Elisabeth Premyslid, died. This tradition was restored by Cardinal Bedřich Schwarzenberg and his statue by J. V. Myslbek, placed in the cathedral, marks the original location of this altar and the above-mentioned cardinal looks at the new altar of our saints made by him, in the middle of which there is Saint Adalbert.

6) A decisive moment for the development and restoration of the Cyrillo-Methodian reverence is, in the 19th century, the emancipation of the Slavic nations after the year 1848. Thus, Velehrad became not only a historical symbol but also an important place for contemporary events. 5th July was established, due to the fact that summer vacation time was a suitable time for pilgrimages. This program gained support of especially Pope Leo XIII, thanks to his social feelings. Velehrad also became the place of struggle for our newest freedom and breaking free from the shackles of the communist totality. After the pilgrimage in 1985 we can also speak of Tomášek's Velehrad. In him the democratic opposition found its own new spokesman.

7) We are standing at the threshold of the new year 2013. Some of us already tired or disappointed. Let us sing together with the Spiritual kvintet group, "We Shall Overcome". Faith in the future, in the values, on which our whole western civilization is built and on which it stands, in which every person without distinction has full rights, freedom and vested dignity. Not all of us have the same abilities but mutual solidarity and support had guided the lives of our ancestors throughout the whole history. These were not only moments of fame and wealth, but faith led us also to real freedom. Let us learn to use it in mutual respect and friendship. Let us say no to hatred, envy, violence, rudeness, lie and dishonesty. Let us say no to irresponsibility. That is the Cyrillo-Methodian legacy. May God bless all of us, may God bless our country! I have paid more attention to our cathedral because next year, along with the Cyrillo-Methodian celebration on 9th March, we will also celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the Prague Archbishopric there.

Cardinal Dominik Duka OP, Archbishop of Prague


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  • Here are our roots.

    (Blessed John Paul II, 22nd April 1990, Velehrad)

    They wanted to become part of those nations and to share their destiny in everything. Here, in this place, at Velehrad, in Moravia, we can feel the historical legacy of the kingdom in a peculiar way – we can feel even those who became its keepers and guardians.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • For us, people of the present age, their apostolate contains even the elocution of the ecumenical appeal, i.e. to build unity again, in a peaceful reconciliation, which later after their deaths was heavily damaged, and in the first place the unity between the East and the West.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • Their work is also a very important contribution to the growth of the common Christian roots of Europe, which by their firmness and viability create one of the main contact points, which must be respected by every serious attempt at reunification of our continent in a new and topical way.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • The story of both brothers, Cyril and Methodius, is a distinct example of unity.

    Saints Cyril and Methodius contributed, to a great extent, to the building of Europe, not only regarding its Christian religious community but also concerning its civil and cultural unity.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

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