Monstrance - Be My Witnesses exhibition
Monstrance - Be My Witnesses exhibition
Monstrance - Be My Witnesses exhibition

Work of Art in Focus – August 2021

Monstrance ordered by the Central Altar Association to be used at the International Eucharistic Congress in 1938.

Plan by: Antal Megyer-Meyer; manufactured by: successor of A. Oberbauer in Mrs. Istvánné Tögl's workshop, Budapest, 1938.

Material: gilded silver, diamond, turquoise, ruby, glass, cast, hammered, incised, chiselled.

Owner: Örökimádás Church Directorate, Budapest

Hungary holds several celebrations related to Christianity in the month of August. In addition to the main Christian celebrations of the Transfiguration of Jesus and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the same month, 20th August sees the celebrations of King Saint Stephen of Hungary, who is the founder of the Christian state of Hungary and Hungary's Patron Saint. For the month of August, a monstrance was chosen to feature as the Work of Art in Focus: this monstrance, which constitutes a unique devotional and goldsmith artwork, was prepared for the occasion of the International Eucharistic Congress held in Budapest in 1938. The choice of this very artwork is justified by the fact that the month of August can be considered a thanksgiving to King Saint Stephen of Hungary for his foundation of the Hungarian state and, in a similar fashion, this liturgical object reminds us of our thanksgiving for Christ.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the monstrance is a liturgical vessel used for carrying and presenting the Eucharist on festive occasions. The monstrance features a glass cylinder made of cut glass or regular glass with a wafer placed in a crescent-shaped holder (i.e. lunette) behind it. The monstrance is used on the occasion of processions or at the exposition of the Sacrament.

The meaning of the originally Greek word ‘Eucharist' is thanksgiving. The word refers to Christ's gesture of thanksgiving in the scope of which act Jesus, while praying, took in his hand the bread and the wine and, after their transubstantiation, offered them to his Disciples. The Roman Catholic Church has been practising this gesture of thanksgiving, transubstantiation and sharing for over two thousand years through the act of communion, which is associated with two colours: the colour of the bread and that of the wine as part of taking the Eucharist.

An interesting feature of this 122 cm high goldsmith artwork, prepared on the basis of plans by Antal Megyer-Meyer, is that the large-size monstrance encapsulates a smaller-size removable monstrance. Below the crescent, the inside of the artwork features the slogan of the 1938 Budapest-based Eucharistic Congress: TV ES VINCULUM CARITATIS; in English: You are the Bond of Love.

International Eucharistic Congresses have been organised since 1874 for the purpose of widely popularising the Eucharist and promoting its reverence. In 1938, the world saw the 34th Eucharistic Congress with Budapest being home to the event for the first time. In September 2021, the 52nd Congress is held, which the Hungarian capital hosts for the second time in its history.

The monstrance on display now is property of the church of the Central Altar Association's Örökimádás Church, more precisely property of the Budapest-based Örökimádás Church Directorate. The monstrance has been showcased at the treasury exhibition of Budapest's Saint Stephen's Basilica for several years, but on this special occasion it is showcased up until 20th September 2021 in the scope of the exhibition entitled "Be my Witnesses" staged in Pesti Vigadó's 6th floor exhibition hall.