Chapel for MPs opens at lower house of Parliament

Dominik Duka, photo: CTK

A new chapel to be used by MPs was opened at the lower house of the Czech Parliament on Tuesday. The simple prayer room was designed by architect Josef Pleskot and will be open to all deputies, regardless of their faith.

Photo: CTK
Politicians and representatives of various churches attended the opening of Parliament’s modest prayer room on Tuesday. Among them was the head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Dominik Duka, Prague’s Chief Rabbi Karol Sidon, the head of the Ecumenical Council of Churches Daniel Fajfr and Prague Bishop David Tonzar of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church.

Architect Josef Pleskot, who was asked to design the interior, consulted his proposal with all leading church representatives before coming to a final decision. The chapel is to reflect the country’s Jewish-Christian traditions, but is to be open to all faiths and all should feel at home in it.

Dominik Duka, photo: CTK
The entrance to the chapel is a corridor dotted with an alley of lights –which is meant to symbolize the transition from the work scene to the spiritual world. The space inside the chapel is dominated by a round table with a section cut out for a stela with a wood-carving of Jesus on the Cross and –in the windows - letters of the Jewish alphabet symbolizing the Ten Commandments. Architect Josef Pleskot said his choice of a round table was symbolic.

“We know that humankind is diverse and only God can bind it in unity.”

Chief Rabbi Karol Sidon praised the simple interior and contributed a scroll with inscriptions from the Old Testament. Cardinal Dominik Duka told Czech Radio that MPs deserved a place where they could reflect in peace ahead of important decisions.

“Practically all countries with a Jewish-Christian tradition have such chapels in their houses of Parliament. It is good to see that our lower house is keeping in step with this tradition.”

Karol Sidon, photo: CTK
The initiative for the lower house to have its own chapel came from deputies themselves who said they lacked a place where they could get away from the bustle of daily work and reflect on important decisions in peace. TOP 09 MP Helena Langšádlová, who officially filed the request for a chapel over a year ago, told journalists that she was extremely pleased with the outcome and trusted that believers and non-believers alike among the deputies would seek it out as a place of sanctuary and meditation ahead of important votes. In the past two days deputies from across the political spectrum have come to see the new chapel for themselves with many positive reactions and some MPs are already planning to meet there on Thursday mornings; whether they will take the Cardinal’s advice to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” in their reflections here remains to be seen.