WITH a bare 48 hours to go before the Papal Legate arrives by air from Rome to preside over the 37th International Eucharistic Congress, Munich to-day continues to wear a curious ice-berg-like quality about the vast preparations.
The city shows as yet little outward sign that it is about to play host to an unprecedented invasion
of a million people, some 30 Cardinals among the 460 bishop-pilgrims.
The "altar-island" already stands in expectant isolation in the middle of the vast Theresienwiese Meadow. the winged curves of its baldacchino oddly reminding one of the headdress of the Sisters of Charity . . .
Here it is that on Wednesday and again on Sunday, August 7, the million will gather—funnelling smoothly into place along 14 approach routes where in a few months time, other thousands will gather for the annual beer festival.
Bishop Petit of Menevia will represent the Hierarchy of England and Wales. Also travelling to Munich are the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop O'Hara. with about 2,000 pilgrims from this country, and Ireland, and Bishop Ellis of Nottingham.
CATHOLIC HERALD Correspondent, Kevin Devlin, writing from Munich this week comments: 15,000 are
preparing the site
By KEVIN DEVLIN
TODAY, the above-surface signs of next week's ceremonies can quite easily be missed in the bustle of city life, flowing as urgently as the green waters of the Isar.
To get some idea of the complex efficiency of the Congress planning, one must visit a sedate 19th century building in the shadow of the twin-towered Cathedral—the headquarters of the Secretariat.
Once through the massive door, everything is urgency and improvisation. Along one wall of the entrance passage a vast chart gives room numbers of 23 working committees, ranging from Accommodation and Art, through Missions and Music to Traffic and Youth.
Volkswagens shoulder one another in an inner courtyard; hurrying footsteps resound on the tiled floors, a warren of passageways and stairs divide offices hastily partitioned with unpainted wood.
Frantic . .
In the Press section sheaves of hand-outs are piled on chairs before a harassed chain-smoking young woman who received me with frantic courtesy.
Between urgent telephone conversations she told me that 100 people are working full-time at HQ. But, of course, there are a lot of volunteer helpers, too. How many? Oh, about 15,000, fixing up accommodation, arranging meetings of housewives, organising parochial events . . .
But really, she assures me, its all here, and here, and here . . deftly picking out leaflets from the six-language bundles. These have been going out to some 2,700 addresses all over the world, she remarks.
I am amazed by the fantastic complexity of the programme, official and unofficial No pilgrim could possibly get to more than a fraction of the exhibitions, concerts and lectures.
Efficient . .
There is something very Germanic about the impressive statistics: 70,000 young people to be housed in tents; 200,000 Germans arriving in 110 pilgrimage trains, etc. But who worked out that if all the 500,000 Theresienwiese seats were placed in a row they would reach from Munich to Karlsruhe?
But if the Press section is busy, the accommodation section is . . . hectic? frantic?--I have no adjective for it. Secretaries rush about as I wait apologetically. Eighteen typists are busy ten hours a day filling in accommodation forms. I was told. In Munich, I learn, one family in four is putting up Congress pilgrims, about half of them free of charge. And
Continued on page 5, col. 6 Continued front page 1 this takes no account of the thousands who are taking in friends and relatives without reporting it to the Secretariat. Generosity is a recurring keynote in the symphony of Congress preparations: German Convents and schools have made or bought 25.000 " altar gifts" to be distributed to missionaries after the Congress; youth organisations have given 33,000 lb. of wheat and 2,000 gallons of wine for the revival of the early-Christian agapes (brotherhood meals).
The opens Th Congress ope on Sunday with Pontifical High Mass in all the churches of the Munich diocese.
On Wednesday evening the Papal Legate will preside at the formal opening in the Theresienwiese which is to be " a gathering of the whole Catholic world ",
, nation by nation.
On Wednesday night the All Night Vigil Group from England will keep vigil in the church of St. Paul.
On Thursday, 90 deacons will he ordained,
On Friday, a chapel in honour of Christ's Agony in the Garden will be dedicated at Dachau. Pilgrims of all nations will take part in a vigil of atonement. On Saturday, Mass in the Byzantine Rite celebrated in the Theresienwiese will be broadcast by radio Hilversum on 298m. at 7.15 p.m. (This programme can easily be obtained in this country). The Congress will close on Sunday. August 7, with Pontifical High Mass on the Congress site and a broadcast message from the Holy Father.