A festive Order Day with prayer for a “new expansion of the Kingdom of God in Europe”
The weather were great on this Saturday, October 26, 2019: Under bright sunshine about 350 knights and dames of the Order of St. George gathered on the Residenzplatz in front of Salzburg Cathedral, observed by a few curious Asian tourists. Two days later, on Monday, a cold front from the north was to break over Salzburg, but this weekend one was completely spared. Better weather conditions could hardly have been expected.
As with every day of the order, the square concert was not to be missed in Salzburg, this time played by the Rainer music. After the announcement to the grandmaster at 9.40 a.m. the departure took place at about 10 a.m. to move into the cathedral. As always, the government of the Order progressed at the top, represented among others by the Grand Master HIRH Karl von Habsburg, the Procurator Baron Vinzenz von Stimpfl-Abele, Counsel Patrick von Thun-Hohenstein and Chancellor Stefan Schermaier.
With touching words Archbishop Franz Lackner reminded in his sermon that bravery is the central virtue of knights. It was concelebrated by former bishop Klaus Küng and prelate Pius Maurer Ocist, abbot of Lilienfeld Abbey. The choir and orchestra of “Da Ponte Salzburg” under the direction of Peter Peinstingel, conductor of the St. Peter Abbey in Salzburg provided the musical accompaniment. Mozart’s “Piccolomini Mass” was a work of an extremely festive character, with trumpets, timpani and oboes particularly underlined.
Around 50 postulants were invested in the cathedral, including former Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende as an honorary knight. For the first time an Order prayer written by Bishop Küng was prayed together. (Küng is Chairman of the Spiritual Council of the Order.) “Save Europe from the loss of its Christian roots,” it says among other things, “and strengthen all those who are striving for a renewed expansion of the Kingdom of God in Europe.
Afterwards, they had lunch in the restaurant St. Peter Stiftskulinarium on the first floor. A particularly noble ambience had been chosen for the gala dinner at 8 p.m.: the Carabinieri Hall of the Salzburg Residence. In his function as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Knights of Honour, former Governor Franz Schausberger paid tribute to the “magnificent organisation” of the Order’s Day and also conveyed best regards from Governor Wilfried Haslauer jun. He mentioned the numerous Habsburg kings depicted in the paintings in the neighbouring hall.
All the speakers were brief this time. But when the festive dinner had already begun, Vice Chancellor Count Marcus Paar took the floor again at a later hour. He referred to a knight who had died much too young and surprisingly a few days after the last day of the Order in Budapest. He left behind a widow and two children – twins of kindergarten age. Since the family is now faced with nothing, a large fundraising campaign was started, which will benefit the bereaved – also as a sign of solidarity in these difficult hours and as a clear signal to the family that they are not alone.
The banquet lasted until late into the night and ended shortly before midnight. The Day of the Order was not yet over for many. One or the other continued the friendly get-together elsewhere.