SAINT URBAN’S RELIC COMES TO RENEWED TERÉZIA CHAPEL

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On 21st May, the newly-renovated Terézia Chapel in Tarcal served as a worthy stop on the annual procession that carries the relic of Pope Saint Urban I, patron saint of vines, vineyard workers, coopers and publicans, from Monok to several regional towns and villages. The relic was received at a service, given by local parish priest Zoltán Szűcs and enhanced by the Hegyalja Teachers' Choir. The ceremony was followed by a modest reception with cheese scones and a Gróf Degenfeld wine being offered to the choir members and other attendees.

The relic was carried from Monok, through Tállya and Mád to Tarcal, and then on to Tokaj, Bodrogkisfalud and Erdőbénye, where it spent the night in the Béres family's chapel in the Omlás Vineyard. On Sunday, the procession continued with stops in Olaszliszka, Sárospatak and Hercegkút before returning to Monok later in the day.

The Terézia Chapel had been built in the mid-18th century and today belongs to the Degenfeld family that owns Degenfeld Winery and Hotel at the bottom of Terézia Hill. Its structural renovation was completed last autumn.

For decades, the relics of Pope Saint Urban I lay virtually unnoticed in the shadow of the high altar of the Catholic church in Monok, the village where it had been originally brought to by Count István Andrássy in 1773 to protect Tokaj vineyards against spring frosts. Then in 2012, the director of the Tarcal-based Research Institute for Viticulture and Oenology brought this precious piece of religious heritage to public awareness by publishing an article about its history (the entire skull and some bone fragments) in the Institute’s monthly newsletter and urging a revival of the cult of Saint Urban in the region. Local associations, municipalities and parishes responded with an initiative to organise a ceremonial procession carrying the relics to many regional towns and villages where they were greeted with both spiritual and secular celebrations in May 2013.

Owing to initial concerns about the potential risk of the relics and their ancient Baroque feretory sustaining damage in any subsequent processions, the use of the original reliquary was eventually decided against for the 2014 event. Instead, a professional restorer from the National Museum of Hungary was commissioned to separate and prepare a bone fragment of the relics for placement in a small, dedicated glass holder that is safe and easy to handle.

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