In 2019, Pope Francis, leader of the global Catholic Church, celebrated an outdoor Mass at the Our Lady of Csíksomlyó Hungarian national shrine in Romania. When the Franciscan Order that runs the shrine published renovation plans for the altar where the pope would appear, the Facebook post received over 800 outraged comments, including one man who asked, “How can such a beautiful Hungarian symbol, so perfectly integrated into the landscape, be humiliated like this?” By situating these expressions of outrage in the history of Eastern European material politics, I argue that the aesthetic value the commentators were defending – a locally integrated built environment – is actually the product of a complex history of the appropriation and reappropriation of material forms that binds the Csíksomlyó shrine into the material politics of the right-wing Hungarian nation-state.



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