January 2021 #1 – Next Hungarian president

Hungarian’s likely first female president is outspoken campaigner on “Christian values”. Hungary’s dominant political party is due to choose a new leader in May 2022, and the likely choice will be current Family Minister, Katalin Novák.  Novák is known for expressing social and familial issues from an Evangelical Christian perspective, and talks frequently to media and on social media about her personal faith. 

Growing Evangelical Protestant population in Spain.Immigration from Latin America has contributed to a big rise in Spain’s Protestant population; from 96,000 in 1998 to 900,000 now. Many of the immigrants were originally Catholic, but have found Evangelical churches supportive and welcoming places as they settle in their new country. Spain is still an overwhelmingly Catholic country, although the number of people calling themselves Catholic has declined from 85% in 2000 to 62% now, and 6000 of the 23,000 Catholic parishes in Spain are without a full-time priest. 

Epiphany celebrations return to Madrid. Whilst festivities were smaller than usual because of Covid restrictions, Madrid’s annual Epiphany parade returned this year with the Three Wise Men flanked by camels, dancers and firemen. Most Spanish children receive their Christmas presents on 6 January when the Three Wise Men reached Jesus with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Spotlight on Dublin

In addition to Dublin’s famous cathedrals of Christ Church and St Patrick’s, the city is blessed with many other fascinating churches, including the Church of Adam and Eve (4 Merchant’s Quay), which is a Franciscan church built in the eighteenth century for the Franciscan community that had been in Dublin since the  thirteenth century. The church exterior closely matches the solid Georgian-era buildings in the Merchant’s Quay part of Dublin, but its interior is unusual in a number of ways, including the extensive use of blue to honour the Virgin Mary, as well as the stained glass commemorating recent popes. 

St Audoen’s Church (High St, The Liberties ) is a rare example of an intact mediaeval church in the city. From the sixteenth century until the mid-nineteenth century, the declining Protestant population in the area meant church finances were poor, and the church fell into a state of near-dereliction. Restoration began in the nineteenth century and continued until the 1980s. The church porch houses a mediaeval “lucky stone” that has been touched for good luck by people in the area since the time it was part of a water cistern in Cornmarket. The church is surrounded by a play park commemorating children that died in the 1916 Uprising. 

Saint of the week: Saint Adrian of Canterbury.

Born in North Africa in the 7th century, Adrian was first an abbot in Naples before being sent to be abbot of St Peter & St Paul monastery in Canterbury. After a difficult journey across Europe, subject to the whims and political intrigue of rulers en route, he devoted the rest of his life in Canterbury to writing; not only theology, but secular texts on the geography and natural world he encountered in England.

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