Petőfi Memorial Year: a painting was presented, and a conference was held in Debrecen

The Petőfi commemorative year was opened in the Reformed College in Debrecen to honor the 200th anniversary of the poet's birth.

Photo credit: Facebook (Papp László)

Hungarian Poet Sándor Petőfi visited Debrecen 12 times between 1842 and 1849. The Great Library of the Reformed College is one of the few places that still exists today in its original form.

In the future, visitors can see the painting of Soma Petrich Orlai hung on one of the walls of the Bishop’s Office.

Károly Fekete, Bishop of the Reformed Diocese of Tiszántúl said that the anniversary provides the Presidium of the diocese the opportunity to make this valuable and emblematic painting entitled “The discovery of the body of King Louis II, who fell at Mohács,” available to the public.

In the picture, the artist, who was Petőfi’s second cousin, portrayed the dead poet in the guise of one of the king’s chamberlains. 

At the commemorative meeting, the Mayor of Debrecen László Papp said that the Reformed College had given Hungary artists and politicians who have raised their voices for freedom and independence for 200 years.

“This was the dawn of an era when our poets, writers, and politicians considered it a fundamental condition for Hungarian national renewal that we should not deny or forget our past but build on the lessons learned from it,” he added. 

“Without the achievements of the first half of the 19th century, such as the Hungarian language becoming a state language, we would not be able to talk about freedom today, Szilárd Demeter, director general of the Petőfi Literary Museum, said.

“Thanks to the generations of the reform era, the question for us today is no longer whether we should be prisoners or free – that was decided in 1848 – but what kind of freedom we want for ourselves”, he said, adding that the human ideal of universal rights is a fine idea, but the way to world freedom is through the freedom of nations, to which Petőfi dedicated his life.

On the 200th anniversary of Petőfi’s birth, Debrecen will host a number of programs to help us better understand the poet of the struggle for freedom.