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  • A Temporary Altar for the Eternal

    Conversation with architect Tibor Vákár about the 1938 tender for a eucharistic altar

    Text: György Szücs

    The 34th Eucharistic Congress took place in Budapest on May 25th-28th, 1938 as the Eucharist Festival of international Catholicism. At the end of 1936 the approval of Pope Pius XI was published in which the Pope designated the Hungarian capital as the venue of this event. One of the considerations when making this decision was that Hungary celebrated the 900th anniversary of St Stephen’s death. Quite soon it was decided to hold the events primarily in Heroes’ Square as the chief venue of the celebrations, which in turn had to be adapted and suited to have enough room for 100 000 visitors and also to provide them with safe communication. The pope’s nuncio, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli entered the centre of this converted symbolic space with his companions on the opening ceremony. In August, 1937 a tender was published for the designs of the main altar and the central building with a variety of functions. One of the entries that were not awarded or proposed to be constructed was submitted by architect Tibor Vákár. This conversation with him dates back to 1988, and the apropos of publishing it right now is the Eucharistic World Congress held in Budapest in the summer of 2021.