The remains of Jozsef Mindszenty, Hungary's fiercely anti-communist post-war Roman Catholic archbishop, were brought to their final resting place in his homeland Saturday, 16 years after he died in exile in Austria.
About 10,000 people packed the main square in front of the Cathedral of Esztergom, seat of the Catholic Church in Hungary, under overcast skies to attend the funeral mass celebrated by Cardinal Opilio Rossi.The timing of the reburial angered Mindszenty's former secretary, Monsignor Tibor Meszaros, who chained himself to Mindszenty's tomb in Mariazell, Austria, this week. Meszaros said Mindszenty had wanted to be buried in Hungary only after the last Soviet soldier had left - scheduled for June 30.
But Tamas Vero, a representative of the Switzerland-based Mindszenty Foundation, said the foundation had given its consent for the reburial.
Speaking in front of cathedral consecrated in 1856, Prime Minister Jozsef Antall called Mindszenty a "symbol of the greatest moral power" and a "historic personality whose life of sacrifice served to bring attention to the (communist) menace threatening Eastern Europe."
The three-hour ceremony ended in the vaults of the cathedral, where Mindszenty's steel coffin was placed in the crypt that carried the inscription: "Humiliated in life and exalted in death."
Cardinal Mindszenty was arrested in the cathedral in 1949, tortured and imprisoned on espionage charges by the communists. He died on May 6, 1975, and was buried in Mariazell, Austria.