The former President of the Republic, and the first Chief Justice of Hungary’s Constitutional Court László Sólyom was laid to rest in Plot 10 of the national memorial site, next to his wife, according to the funeral rites of the Roman Catholic Church.
In his eulogy, the former President’s chief of staff, Balázs Landi, Sólyom’s former student, now associate professor at the Faculty of Law and Political Science of Pázmány Péter Catholic University, said that László Sólyom so cherished the value of the life he received as a gift that he ‘died for it again and again,’ first following the death of his wife, Erzsébet.
He added that the former president had always cared for his wife alone and her death had shaken him. After that, the former president almost completely withdrew from public life and, at the age of 75, walked the entire 600-kilometre-long Camino pilgrimage route all at once.
Landi put it this way: ‘He travelled a great distance and died for another life.’ The secretary revealed that Sólyom was diagnosed with a disease two years after the death of his wife, which he referred to as ‘solidarity cancer.’ He underwent a major, high-risk surgery. He explained that the former president consciously experienced even this ‘death.’ In barely a year, a three-volume collection of the life work of Sólyom titled Documenta was compiled. During this time, perhaps as the oldest person in Hungary to ever do so, he learned to pilot an airplane, passed the test, and obtained a pilot’s license.
Landi further explained that two years later, Sólyom’s illness recurred, and following the treatments, he began translating theological writings. In a little over a year, he learned Italian to the extent that he translated into Hungarian a book titled Pope Francis and His Time, which was edited by Andrea Riccardi. The former President was especially interested in two subjects in his late work: on the one hand, the ‘wildfire-like spread’ of Christianity that captivates the masses in the majority world, and on the other hand, the religious life in China. Landi also mentioned that it was in those days that President, Sólyom asked him to speak at his funeral service.
However, ‘solidarity cancer’ no longer allowed the ‘usual two-year grace period’ this time around, Landi added.
In Landi’s opinion, when we look back at the various phases of Sólyom’s eventful life, it is impossible to highlight a single attribute. Her was not just a scholar, a constitutionalist, or a principled man: in reality, all of these characterized him together. One thing that stood out about him was that he consciously experienced, protected, represented, and enriched until his death the gifts he had received—his unique wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, whom he loved in a protective but wise manner.
Landi declared that Sólyom’s intellectual and moral strength and human character serve as a reference point for all.
The ceremony was attended by President Katalin Novák, former Presidents János Áder and Pál Schmitt, House Speaker László Kövér, several members of the government, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, members of the diplomatic corps, as well as representatives of churches and parliamentary parties, as well as several justices of the Constitutional Court.
László Sólyom, who was Hungary’s President from 2005 to 2010, passed away on 8 October 2023, at the age of 82, following a long illness.
Sources: Hungarian Conservative/MTI