BEATIFICATION OF MGR. VLADIMIR GHIKA (1873 – 1954) —August 31st, 2013First beatification in Bucharest, Romania
The beatification of this much loved priest and son of the Romanian people, who was arrested and died in prison in 1954, during the Cold War, was an occasion of great rejoicing for the Catholic (and Orthodox) church in Romania.
About 10,000 people participated in the Solemn Liturgy of Beatification of Mgr Vladimir Ghika, celebrated in the Pavilion of RomExpo, Bucharest on Saturday 31 August 2013.
His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for Saints, the main celebrant, read the Apostolic Letter from Pope Francis, in which Vladimir Ghika is declared Blessed. The gathered assembly included Cardinal André Vingt-Trois from Paris, and a large delegation from France, over 20 Bishops, both Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic, from Romania and neighbouring Eastern European countries.
Over 300 priests entered in procession to the sound of trumpets, and about 30 members of the Ghika family were also present, as well as diplomatic and political dignitaries, and many Romanians, Orthodox and Catholic, who had travelled from the country to be present on this auspicious occasion, including two of our CiMs from Galați. The atmosphere was full of joy and emotion. The event was transmitted live on the main Romanian TV channel and given extensive coverage.
Blessed Vladimir Ghika, born into a Romanian Orthodox family, became a Catholic and was ordained priest in Paris in October 1923 at the age of 50, in the chapel of the Lazarists, rue de Sèvres. He was the first priest in Romania to be given faculties to celebrate in the Byzantine rite as well as the Roman rite. Thus, in a rather extraordinary and no doubt providential way, he brings together, in his very person, the three Christian families in Romania. May he be a powerful intercessor for Christian unity in this country. Before his arrest in November 1952 Blessed Vladimir Ghika ministered in the French Church of Sacre Coeur, our local parish church, and there is a statue in his honour in the square near the church.
Of particular interest to us FCJs is the fact that Chantal Geistodt-Kiener (daughter of the late Victoire de Bonnault d’Houët, who died in 2004) is married to Mihai Sturdza, a Romanian Prince whose family is related to the Ghika family. The Sturdzas came to meet with our pilgrims during an evening gathering in Paris on July 3rd and told us then that they hoped to be in Bucharest on August 31st for Mgr. Ghika’s beatification. It was great to meet them and celebrate with them on this very special occasion; how wonderful to have a Venerable and a Blessed in one family!