By Lydia O’Kane – Bratislava
“I hope it will be a great and wonderful surprise what the Pope will say to us,” says Fr Radoslav Šaškovic, as he sits in the majestic surroundings of St Martin's Cathedral in Bratislava.
It is the eve of the Pope’s meeting with priests and religious in this place of worship, and the cathedral’s vicar adds, “I like to be surprised by him; this great Pope, this great Bishop of Rome, so I don’t think I have any special expectation about what he is going to say.”
Preparations are continuing unabated all around Fr Šaškovic, as he describes this cathedral as a place steeped in charity.
“I think this cathedral is one of the best places for the Pope to visit… We are here in St Martin’s Cathedral and you know St Martin is one of the patrons… of charity, of Christian love, service to poor people,” he says.
With the establishment of the Archdiocese of Bratislava in 2008, Metropolitan Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky established the tradition of an annual collection on St. Martin’s Day just after the Archdiocese was founded, so that all might imitate this great saint with good works.
The proceeds of the first “St. Martin’s collection” were donated to the Cenacolo Center, which offers help to those affected by drug addiction. The cathedral is also involved in care of the needy, and care of victims of human trafficking.
As the faithful await Pope Francis’ visit here on Monday, Fr Šaškovic is hoping that his example of care and support for the poor and vulnerable will be a source of encouragement to people in Slovakia to lend a hand to those who need help and support.