The Vatican announced Thursday that due to the health situation caused by the coronavirus, the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, to be held in Budapest in September, has been moved to the year 2021.
A statement from Holy See press office director Matteo Bruni April 23 said the decision to move the eight-day gathering to September 2021 was made by Pope Francis together with the Hungarian bishops and the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.
The schedule of the Sept. 13-20 event included Mass, prayer, catechesis, and talks, as well as cultural and spiritual events around the Hungarian capital.
A three-day symposium featuring talks on the Eucharist by religious and theologians was planned in the lead-up to the congress.
Pope Francis had been asked to visit Hungary for the event by Hungary’s President János Áder, who extended the invitation during a February meeting.
The Vatican had not made any official announcement about a papal trip to Budapest, but during an Angelus address Dec. 15, Pope Francis asked for prayers for the conference’s success.
“For more than a century, the Eucharistic congresses have been reminding us that the Eucharist is at the center of the Church’s life,” he said.
“We pray that the Eucharistic event in Budapest may foster processes of renewal in Christian communities,” he continued, “so that the salvation of which the Eucharist is the source may also be translated into a Eucharistic culture capable of inspiring men and women of good will in the fields of charity, peace, family, care of creation.”
The International Eucharistic Congress first took place in France in 1881 with the goal of increasing devotion to the Eucharist and bringing awareness to the large number of Catholics in the country.
It has continued to be held every few years in a different city and has crossed the globe, taking place in Jerusalem, Nairobi, Melbourne, Korea, the U.S., and throughout Europe.
The last congress was held in Cebu, Philippines in 2016. There were 12,000 participants at the congress, though millions took part in associated Masses. Hungary last hosted the Eucharistic Congress in 1938.
The event aims to give witness to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and to promote a better understanding of the liturgy and the Eucharist in the life of the Church. The congress is now typically held every four years.