Finding Our Lady Finding Our Blessed Mother Mary in Csatka, Hungary
The Feast of the Queenship of Mary, Saturday Aug 22, 1998. This was our last day in Hungary. Of the 1400 rosaries we took with us, only 150 remained. And the beautiful banner of Our Blessed Mother that I had made for the Church in Keszthely still remained. Feeling I had failed, we gathered, the rosaries, the banner and the children and we drove to a tiny town in rural Hungary.
I didn't know what to expect really. A Sister we had met, by the name of Sister Emmanuel Theresa, on the street in the city of Székesfehérvár invited us. (For centuries Székesfehérvár was the capital of Hungary. From the day Saint Stephen, founder of the state, came to the throne, this is where Hungarian Kings were crowned. St. Stephen brought Christianity to Hungary and consecrated Hungary to Our Blessed Mother and made her their patroness. But under communism she has lost her rightful place. Hungary is now a Republic and Mary still has not been restored to her rightful place.)
I remember Sister's words as we spoke to her about our trip. “If things don't work out, come see us.” Then she gave me her address. She belongs to an order called Mary's sisters. The color of their habit is sky blue. (Maria Noverek, Hungary, CSATKA 2888, Szabadsyto 64, Tel 34/388-812. She had told me there were about 20 sisters in her order. So on this day we went to find her. I thought I would give her the banner and the remaining rosaries.
Csatka (pronounced Chut ku) is a village typical of most Eastern European countries. We found the house it was old and worn. This is quite typical in the rural areas. It was not hard to find this is a very small town consisting of about 25 or so buildings. In fact the doorbell to the house where the sister live was cowbell on the front gate. As we stood there I read the sign on the gate which read “dog bites”. I saw a Sister in the back yard but she quickly disappeared into the old house on seeing us. She sent out a big black dog that was barking loudly. But it took my children a matter of moments to turn him into a “pussycat”. They gave him part of a cookie and he started wagging his tail.
We rang the cowbell again. Still no one came. An old woman passed us on the street. I told her how Sister Theresa had invited us and that we were looking for her. She said that the Sisters were probably about the countryside. But she gladly took a rosary and miracle prayer card from us. The kids were getting hungry so we decided to find a place to get a bite to eat and then try again later.
As we drove down the road a short way, we found that there was really no place to eat. The little shops were all closed. We continued to drive a little further up the road. As we drove I noticed a building painted white. There was a crucifix on the side of the building and a small statue of Mary in the yard. We stopped and I got out to inquire about this place. There were some children playing in the yard so I went to the door where they were. A woman in her mid-forties answered. “This is a catholic school but the Sisters are not here.”
Feeling a little discouraged I got back in the car. We drove a little further. As we turned the corner I saw a wooden sign nailed to a tree, which read “Kaoplna” with an arrow pointing out into a farmers field. (Kapolna means chapel). Now, we did see a church in the village but it was locked like all the churches have been up to now, open only right before Mass. It had been raining all night so the road was mostly mud now. At one point Susan stopped the car she could not go any further and did not want to risk getting it stuck. She said she would stay with the children in the car and told me to go check it out. Despite the fact, I was wearing sandals. But I proceeded up this very muddy road, down a hill through some trees.
My heart experienced a wonderful “peacefulness” in this place. Through the trees I saw what looked kind of like a valley with a small chapel. In front of this chapel were many benches. They were arranged to make kind of an amphitheater. But it was badly in need of repair. The garden to was overgrown. There were two tiny houses going up from the chapel across from where I was standing. I saw no one but, a young man, his wife (I assume) and a small child of about two. They were getting into a car parked not too far from where Susan was parked. Once they left, this place seemed disserted. Not a soul could be seen. But there was such peace here.
As I walked towards the little chapel I found to my amazement that it was open, so I walked in. I could feel our Lords presence here! This place was different for some reason. My eyes were drawn to the altar. There in front of me, was a life-size statue of Our Blessed Mother, above the altar. All around the church were fake flowers adorning beautiful little statues and pictures of Jesus and Mary. There were many little votive candles burning. It was wonderful to be here. But where is everyone? As I wandered around the altar I was surprised to find everything open and unlocked. I then came upon a life-size statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As I approached my heart prayed, “now that I'm here Lord, what would you have me do?” Jesus spoke to my heart and answered, “Go outside.” “I was just out there, there is no one outside.” But who am I to argue with Jesus. So I went outside.
To my surprise I saw a little old man wearing a dark blue jacket, black pants and a small black beanie. He was coming out of one of the little houses and coming towards me. I wondered who he was? I'm sure he wondered the same about me. When he reached me, I told him I was looking for Sister Emmanuel Theresa. I told him how she had invited us to come up here before we drove back to Germany to catch our plane back to the United States. I then asked him who he was. “Father Joseph, I am the caretaker of this place,” he replied. His answer made me happy. Because he did not say “Doctor” but rather, Father. He told me he would be glad to take the banner and the rosaries from me.
We walked together up the hill on the muddy road to the car. It was then that I felt like telling him everything that had happened to us during our mission trip. When I had finished telling him, he looked at me and said, “You love the Blessed Mother that much?” “Yes,” I replied, “Communism has pushed her aside.” Father nodded in agreement. Father Joseph continued to listen as I spoke. His face was that of love and compassion and humility. He is a “real priest.”
We got everything from the car and this time Susan and the children accompanied us back to the chapel. Father and I continued to talk and I continued to fill in details for him, as we made our way back. Once inside the chapel he helped me unwrapped the banner. As we did his words surprised me. “This banner,” he said, “was not meant for the church in Keszthely. It was meant for this place.” I was left speechless. It was then that he proceeded to tell us about this place.
He took us behind the altar and showed us a closet. It was filled with sixty-three of the most beautiful gowns of satins in blue, white and gold. He told us they belong to Our Blessed Mother Mary. The life-size statue of Mary is changed for the different feast days. I thought how appropriate that Father Joseph should be the caretaker of this place. Who took care of Mary and saw to it that she was clothed? But her beloved spouse Joseph. I’ve never seen a life-size statue with a wardrobe. This touched my heart.
He took us out side behind the chapel and showed us a little replica of the grotto at Lourdes. There was a little covering with two paintings just off to the left and below the grotto area. Father then said, “you not here by accident. The Blessed Mother brought you here to be here on this day.” My heart just about stopped, as I read the sign under the painting. Father then continued, “Mary appeared on the spot where the chapel now stands back in 1872 on this very day, August 22nd. She brought you here to be here on her feast day.” My eyes welled with tears of joy. This was truly a grace!
Walking to the Chapel
As the story of Csatka goes, she appeared to a farmer who was with some other people. They only saw the two angels that were on either side of Our Blessed Mother Mary. Only the farmer saw the Blessed Mother. A healing spring came forth from the ground. As the water emerged from the ground, fireworks happened and were seen by all who were present. The altar in the chapel stands over the very site of the spring. Father said the water is piped down from the chapel to a fountain near where the benches are. He said this was done so that the pilgrims getting water would not disturb the Holy Mass since the alter was built over the spring.
Father then took us around back and unlocked the door to a small building. Inside was a small room with a table and a small bookshelf. The table had some candles and holy cards and a few small statues on it. Father gave me a holy card and then some candles. Two candles were 23" long and 1 1/2" in diameter with a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (which Susan took) the other with the image of Our Lady of Grace which was given to me. I thanked Father. Then he gave me a bigger candle with roses on it and a picture of our Blessed Mother. This candle was 27" long and 3" in diameter. Father was insistent that I take. It was beautiful, but I wondered how I was going to get this to fit in my suitcase.
We continued to talk. At one point I was prompted to give him the St Benedict cross I was wearing. I shared with him how I acquired it and told him that a Benedictine monk had blessed it for me with the exorcism blessing. Father Joseph’s eyes filled with tears as I gave him the cross. He told me the banner would be hung up for Mary’s birthday on some guide wires next to the chapel so that everyone could see it. I hope and pray that many people will come celebrate Our Blessed Mother’s birthday.
Father then took us around front of the chapel to the fountain. The grass was very high and the benches looked like they needed repair. But there in the center of this area was the fountain. It had three spigots. Ice cold water was flowing. He left us for a moment and went back to the house and brought a glass and told us all to drink from the spring. He even brought a plastic jug that we might take some of the water with us. As we walked back towards the chapel my heart was singing. Father asked if we might give him a lift into town? “Sure”. Father left us a moment and went back into the little house. Susan went on ahead with the kids to the car while I waited for Father Joseph. As I stood there, my soul was filled with a joy that escapes words. “Thank you dearest Mother Mary for your love, for Father Joseph and this wonderful grace.”
I've come to understand during my conversation with Father that this place is unknown to many people even in Hungary. My mother was born and raised in Hungary and never heard of this place. Communism has tried to hide this place as it has tried to hide all it's churches. Churches in Hungary have no signs on them. You don't know if you are in St. Stephen’s or St. Mary’s and some times you can't even tell if it's a Catholic Church at all. The oppression is very heavy in this country. The people need Mary to be restored to her rightful place as patroness of Hungary and to rule as queen in their hearts. This place should have been filled with pilgrims on this the anniversary of her appearance, the way Lourdes and Fatima are. Yet we were there for the better part of a day and during that time only Father Joseph, my daughter Jessica, my son David, my friend Susan and myself kept company with Our Blessed Mother.
So much happened on this trip. But as I was standing there, waiting for Father that we might leave, it was put on my heart to make this place known. I would continue to pray on this matter. After we said our good-byes we left Father at he church in town. He said this was his parish church. He opened the doors for us and told us we could stay as long as we like. He asked us only to close the door behind us when we leave. We knelt in thanksgiving before the Blessed Sacrament. It had truly been a grace filled day.