Prague plays host to ‘Night of the Open Churches’ festival

On Monday evening, Prague plays host to the second annual ‘Night of the Open Churches’ festival. The programme offers out-of-hours prayer services and concerts to Prague’s devout, and just plain curious, citizens. A number of the city’s churches, from right across the Christian spectrum, are taking part in the event. Zuzana Dvořáková is the organiser of the festival; she outlines what is on the programme:

“The crucial intention is to open up churches at an unusual time, and invite not only believers, but also people who are not connected with any of the churches. Our programme was made to reflect this.

“The programme starts tonight at 6.30 at the church of Saint Kliment. For those who would be interested in attending an Orthodox service with the typical singing, then they can come to the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius at 8pm. And afterwards at 9pm there will be the prayers and songs of Taizé, which will be led by brothers who have come all the way from Taizé for this event.”

Was this an idea which originally came from Austria, did I hear?

“Yes, in Austria, in certain cities and towns there are ‘nights of the open churches’ each year in summer. And I’ve heard also in Paris and in other cities in Europe such events take place. But here in the Czech Republic, in Prague, this event is more compact, let’s say, because for instance in Austria, there are more than 100 churches open. And we are only opening four churches this evening. But in future, our hope is to expand a bit.”

Was this event organized with the idea of getting more people into religion? What is the impetus behind it?

“As it was already mentioned, the reasoning is to open these churches up to all people, regardless of their religion or faith. So this is the idea behind opening the doors, and this is why we wanted to create a programme which would be attractive to people of all faiths.”

Will it also be attractive for people of all languages? Will tourists, say, be able to drop in?

“Most of the programme will be based on prayers, and it really doesn’t matter in which language you pray. We all pray in our languages, so this is also open for people who speak different languages other than Czech. And also music is a very important part of this event. For example, Taizé prayers are very well known for their international understandability. You can sing them in all languages. So I think it is really open to people of all languages.”