To celebrate the handover of the Vienna church of Mary the Victorious by the Austrian Catholic Church to the Coptic Orthodox Church, a celebration has been held over which Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church; and Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Austria, presided.
Friday 20 May, Pope Tawadros II who is on a visit to Vienna for pastoral and medical reasons, had consecrated the church to the Holy Virgin and Archangel Michal in the Coptic Orthodox ritual. With him was Anba Gabriel and a number of Coptic Orthodox bishops in Europe.
Dating back to 1870, the church of Mary the Victorious is among Vienna’s touristic sites, and was offered by the Catholic Church in Austria to the Coptic Orthodox Church with which it enjoys exemplary relations.
During the handover celebration, Cardinal Schonborn gave a word in which he expressed his warm sentiments for the Coptic Church whose presence in Vienna he described as a “great gift from God”. He said the Holy Family had visited Egypt and blessed her, and that the Coptic people were pious, hardworking, and loved their Church and pope exceedingly. Cardinal Schonborn said that the church of Mary the Victorious was dear to the heart of Catholics who, by giving it to the Copts, gave them their heart. He thanked the Catholic congregation who had willingly given this ‘offering’, as the act of love was described by Anba Gabriel, the Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Austria.
Cardinal Schonborn talked of St Mary the Victorious, saying that true victory can only be achieved through love not hate; victory, he said, cannot be attained by the violence of the sword but by “the love of Jesus Christ who died for us on the Cross”.
Love never fails
Pope Tawadros spoke also of love, saying that he considered this day a feast of joy and love between East and West. He thanked the Lord for His care for His people at all times, then thanked the congregation of the church of Mary the Victorious, and Cardinal Christoph Schonborn for the “beautiful act of love” they have done.
“In my visit to Pope Francis in Rome on 10 May 2013, we decided to pray for each other and to celebrate the day 10 May annually as the Day of Love. We have been doing this every year so far, and we would call each other to commemorate the love between our two Churches. I now propose that Austria too should join us in celebrating this Day of Love on 10 May every year.
“This church carries a beautiful name: Mary the Victorious,” Pope Tawadros said. “As Cardinal Shonborn said, the Holy Virgin’s victory came through love. This church strongly gives us this message of love, for the Bible says: Love never fails.”
22 May 2016