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517 S Belle Vista Ave

Youngstown, OH 44509

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Struggles for the Ancient Faith

It was during this period that the Hungarian nation had to face two of the greatest tragedies of her history; one was the Osman conquest and the other, the spiritual and political breach in the wake of the Reformation that divided the country and nation against itself.  The people of Transylvania, though they had their share in both of these national catastrophes and taken under the protective love of their gracious Patroness, were able to face these tragedies with confidence and courage.  Indeed, when in 1567 King and Prince John Sigismund of Transylvania, adopted the Unitarian faith and had decided to force it upon his subjects, only the Seklers had the courage to protect their ancient Catholic religion, by resisting force with force.  Their faith being attacked, they gathered one in spirit around the Shrine of their Patroness at Csiksomlyo, fully confident to receive protection.  Leaving the women, the aged and the children in the church, the men, armed only with hoes and scythes, began their march from the foot of the Madonna to meet the well armed, regular army of the Prince. 

The uneven contest began on a high mountain pass named Tolvajos teto of the Hargita Mountains.  While the scantily armed little band of the Seklers were fighting the superior forces of the aggressor, their women and children were praying day and night before the statue of the Virgin.  It was the Vigil of Pentecost when the bitter battle finally ended with a surprising Sekler victory. Though acquaintance with the terrain was of great strategic advantage for the attacked, and they used it skillfully, the victory, nevertheless, came to them unexpectedly.  They did not hesitate to credit it to their gracious Madonna.  Without delay they returned to her Shrine to express their jubilant gratitude.  As symbols of victory, they carried green branches like palms in their hands, as they marched back to the Madonna in solemn procession.  When the group of women and children, carrying church-banners and crucifixes, joined them, their procession became a real march of triumph.  In that strange mark the religious and patriotic elements blended in a unique colorful harmony.

This triumphant return from battle, inspired by joy and gratitude, was the beginning of the famous annual pilgrimage of the Seklers to Csiksomlyo on the feast of Pentecost.  By repeating every Pentecost the triumph procession at the Shrine of the Madonna, they wanted to keep alive for all ages the memory of the victory of their faith obtained through the miraculous intervention of their great Patroness.  Although the dominant element in these pilgrimages was the religious, traces of the old, triumphant victory march were still discernible.  The Pilgrims even up until recent times returned from the Shrine with fresh green branches in their hands, and the group of the district of Maros walked to Csiksomlyo at the beat of drums, as in a military parade.

This victory, attributed to the Madonna, stirred their hearts to even greater love and affection.  She conquered not only the enemies of the faith, but also the hearts of her devoted, trusting Seklers.