More than 1,300 sites take part in 10th Church Night

Monastery of St George at Prague Castle, photo: Rémi Diligent, Public Domain

The 10th annual Church Night gets underway in the Czech Republic on Friday and it’s bigger than ever before. The event, which offers visitors a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of places usually closed to the public, started in 2009 with 25 churches. This year, more than 1,300 churches from all around the country are taking part.

Monastery of St George at Prague Castle,  photo: Rémi Diligent,  Public Domain
I spoke to Stanislav Zeman, spokesman of the Prague Archdiocese, and I first asked him to outline some of the highlights:

“Here at Prague Castle we’ll have a violin concert by maestro Jaroslav Svěcený, which starts in the St Vitus Cathedral at 7 p.m. after an introduction by Cardinal Dominik Duka.

“Just after visitors can follow the British trace in the programme, a concert by a choir Polymnia from Great Britain conducted by John Byron, which starts in the cathedral at 8 p.m.

“In the Saint John monastery, just behind the cathedral, there will be a presentation of women religious orders or congregations, because it is the first monastery on the Czech territory and it used to be a female monastery.”

Can you also mention some of the events taking place outside the capital city?

“Of course. For example in the city of Dobříš, there will be a theatrical performance based on the traditional Japanese theatre Kyogen. And in the village Načeradec people will have a chance to taste specialities from the monastic cuisine, prepared in cooperation with the brewery in the Želiv monastery. There is also a very rich programme, including concerts and lectures in all of the three churches in Nymburk.”

The festival offers an opportunity to get a glimpse of places which are usually closed to the general public. Which places do you open this year that are only very rarely accessible to the general public?

Illustrative photo: Dominika Bernáthová
“It is for example the afore mentioned monastery of St George at Prague Castle, because there has been a long-term reconstruction taking place there. And in many of the churches people will have a chance to play an organ or ascend towers with bells or descend the ancient crypts. So these spaces, for example, are only open on this night.”

One of the main ideas behind Church Night is to open the churches to a large spectrum of people who normally don’t attend the worship. Would you say you have succeeded in fulfilling this goal?

“We hope so. We offer Christianity via dialogues, music, lectures and art. And we hope people can have their own inner experience. Hopefully the variety of the offer provides possibilities to get to know Christianity sensitively and without imposing.”