A WINTER VIEW OF PRAGUE

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A dreary landscape of haze, smog, clouds, and pollution during Christmas 1969 made up this unusual shot of Prague’s famous hill.  The weather was dismal and overcast.  One got used to seeing the sun struggle to burn through the clouds filled with the pollutants from communist factories – dirt, carbon, and chemicals that quickly speckled the newly fallen snow.

The Hradcany, where the Catholic Church and the Communist Party were both headquartered, towered over the rest of Prague.  The spires of the Cathedral of St. Vitus stood out in the midst of the buildings of the Prague Castle.

 

A SOLEMN HIGH MASS IN THE CLEMENTINUM CHURCH

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What many thought would never happen in their lifetimes – the communist authorities allowing a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve – was ushered in by the joyous ringing of church bells throughout the city of Prague.  The church attached to the Clementinum was quickly filled up to overflowing to celebrate Christmas 1969.  The Mass was broadcast over the radio.

It wasn’t just the older people who came.  Many had not attended such solemnity since the communists took over the country after the Second World War.  Many more had never attended such a ceremony.  There were numerous young men and women, some soldiers in uniform daringly attended, and undoubtedly some security police were present to spy on those who attended.  No one particularly cared.

 

THE CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA

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It was truly amazing how quickly a full orchestra and choir came together as if they had been waiting in the wings.  They performed solemn liturgical hymns and operatic arias, as well as traditional Christmas music

 

COMMUNION TIME

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The choir sang mainly liturgical chant and traditional Christmas songs during the long period of time it took for the people to squeeze through the crowds in the aisles and receive Holy Communion.

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