Romani participant in international pilgrimage: Meeting the Pope is the experience of a lifetime
Anna Bystrá was a participant in the recent meeting with Pope Francis at the International Pilgrimage of Gypsies in Rome. News server Romea.cz interviewed her about her experience there.
Q: What did traveling to see the Pope mean for you?
A: What primarily led me to Rome is my strong belief in God. The opportunity to meet the Holy Father, although I only saw him from afar, was an unreal honor for me. It's something you actually experience only once in your life. I find the current Pope to be especially nice, and not just because he accepted us Roma from all over the world.
Q: What did it feel like to meet him?
A: As I said, it was something extraordinary. The program was rather physically demanding, every day we got up early in the morning and we didn't go to sleep until late at night, but the visit to Rome gave me an unreal amount of energy. The most beautiful experience was, naturally, the reception of thousands of Roma by the Holy Father. There were Romani people from all over the world - Italy, Romania, Spain, the United States... We were able to speak with some of them, but sometimes it wasn't even necessary, all we had to do was smile. It was beautiful to see so many Romani believers in one place. The atmosphere was unbelievably lovely. However, it's an enormous shame that so few of us from the Czech Republic were there. Actually in that moment I greatly regretted that the Slovaks are more successful in that sense and that from our country almost no one was capable of organizing a trip to Rome.
Q: How did you make it to the Rome trip?
A: I traveled there with a group of Roma from Slovakia. It was led by my friend of many years, Sister Atanázia, a Romani woman who has worked at the Romani housing estate of Poštárka in Bardějov for years now. That's my home town even though I have been living in Prague for 30 years. Atanázia has long been leading the local Romani people in Bardějov to the faith and this is not the first time that she has traveled outside of Slovakia with them on a pilgrimage. As a little girl I traveled with her to Christian camps. When she called me a while back to ask whether I wanted to go with them to the Vatican to see the Holy Father, I did not hesitate for even one minute. I also brought two other Romani women with me from Prague.
- Papa bull? What the Pope said about Roma
- Address of His Holiness Pope Francis: Meeting with participants in the pilgrimage of Gypsies
- Pope Francis to Roma: Your nation deserves a new story
- LIVE BROADCAST 10:30 GMT today: Romani people meet with Pope Francis
- Almost 2 000 Romani people granted historic audience with the Pope
- Sarkozy to see Pope after French crackdown on Gypsies
- City council sets aside sites for gypsies arriving to see Pope in Birmingham
- Pope asks French to welcome all nationalities
- Hindus and Jews urge Pope to undertake cause of Roma of Czech Republic during his September visit
- Pope appeals for respect for migrants rights after Italy begins clampdown on Romanians
- This year marks the 76th anniversary of the Nazi murder of Romani people in a detention camp in Slovakia
- Chess player, age 11, is a Romani talent from Slovakia who is defeating adult competitors
- Slovak organization wins international award for aid to Roma during the COVID-19 crisis
- Slovak Statistical Office: People can list two nationalities in census, which begins today online only
- Memory of the Roma: Mária Lendelová speaks about her life
- Fascist party in Slovakia seems to be falling apart
- Romani runner in Slovakia prepares for Europe's junior championship
- Slovak quarantine measures in Romani settlement are over, police and soldiers no longer on guard there
- Slovak MP of Romani origin Peter Pollák, Jr.: COVID-19 isn't racist
- Romani politicians: Slovak court's judgment in case of police abuse of children is unacceptable
- Miss Czech Republic, who is Romani, wins title of "Miss Elegance" and is now in the top 15 of the Miss Globe 2020 beauty competition
- Slovak Govt Roma Plenipotentiary says Romani community rates of COVID-19 infection the same as majority-society rates