Slovakian bishop battles virus by flying holy cloth over country

Bratislava (dpa) - Slovakia's influential Catholic Church has piloted a novel method of using old rituals to fight off the coronavirus pandemic: flying a sacred relic over the country in a plane.

In an attempt to ward off the disease, Slovakia's Vicar General Peter Brodek took a cloth said to be soaked in the blood of Jesus Christ up in an aeroplane to bless the faithful from the skies.
Slovakian broadcaster TA3 accompanied Brodek, who is in effect the country's deputy bishop, to film him using the late medieval relic in the airborne ceremony on Sunday.
The holy cloth is normally kept in a specially built chapel in Hronsky Benadik, a pilgrimage site in central Slovakia, and is only brought out at times of great peril, such as floods or epidemics.
Only the greatest threats justify its use, however, with the last such occasion falling back in the 19th century, a church spokesman told TA3.
Coronavirus-related bans on public gatherings prevented worshippers from attending the ceremonial removal of the relic from its usual resting place ahead of the flight.
However, the Bishops Conference, the country's highest Catholic authority, called on Slovakia's faithful to trust in the relic's power and pray for the success of the ceremony.

Monday, March 23rd 2020

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