Prior to the recent visit to the Hungarian capital by Pope Francis, there were numerous requests to the Apostolic Nunciature in Budapest for an audience by the Pope. One of these came from the Argentine Embassy in Hungary. Their request was accepted and the Embassy issued a statement about the audience the circumstances of which are hereby explained by Ambassador Patiño Mayer.
My sole interest of contributing this column in Diplomacy&Trade is thanking and highlighting the real protagonists of what was ultimately one of the most important emotions I have experienced in my more than twenty years as Ambassador of my country.
Predilection for the Hungarian people
The very arrival of Pope Francis to Hungary was a momentous event. The voice of the Supreme Pontiff is undoubtedly the voice of one, who rightfully exercises undisputed leadership in a world scenario that is as uncertain as it is threatening.
His commitment to peace, social justice, and the sublime dignity of the human person is a living testimony of his fidelity to the Gospel mandate of love of God and neighbor. His second visit to Hungary after his coming for the closing of the Eucharistic Congress in 2021 was evidence of the Argentinian Pope's predilection for the Hungarian people. A predilection undoubtedly sustained by the experience of a nation that, like ours, has always been open to migrations, especially those caused by wars, hunger, and authoritarian regimes.
An Argentine virtuoso
But in this case, unlike his first visit, I intended to be able to greet him personally. And it was thanks to two circumstances that this wish was realized. The first was the generous attitude of the Apostolic Nuncio Michael W. Banach, who made the always complex arrangements to include an unplanned meeting in the papal agenda.
The second was the presence in Vienna of a young Argentinian violinist of only 15 years of age who already exhibits exceptional playing skills. She is Pilar Policano, born in Buenos Aires, and who is currently studying in Vienna with the outstanding maestro Boris Kuschnir and is about to travel to New York on a scholarship for a Summer Course with maestro Itzhak Perlman.
Winner of several international awards and after performing as a soloist at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and the Kirchner Cultural Center, with the Argentine National Symphonic Orchestra, she recorded last year her first two singles of Argentinian Music for the label Waves Affaire Music Austria and the same year she won the prize ‘Soloist Performer Revelation 2022’ awarded by Radio Clásica (Spain).
For the Pope to personally appreciate the exceptional quality of this young compatriot, I asked the Apostolic Nuncio to allow her to attend the audience requested by me and to play there a tango written by the Uruguayan musician Gerardo Matos Rodríguez in 1917, which is the anthem of the Río de la Plata: La Cumparsita.
I must once again acknowledge Archbishop Banach for the success of his efforts, which were not only accepted by the Pope but also allowed the whole Policano family to attend the audience and to see with legitimate pride the astonishment and applause of all those present and hear the words of congratulation pronounced by His Holiness.
Extraordinary audience for an extraordinary musician
The rest of what happened can be found in the press release issued by the Argentine Embassy:
The audience was granted by official response from the Apostolic Nunciature to the Embassy of our country in Hungary, to receive the extraordinary Argentine violinist Pilar Policano accompanied by her mother Laura Minniti, her father Pablo Policano and her younger brother Julián. The family was accompanied by the Argentinian Ambassador and the audience took place at the Nunciature, in the presence of Pope Francis, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Michael W. Banach and journalists from the Vatican press.
During the audience, the young violinist of only fifteen years old, who is currently studying in Vienna with the world-renowned professor Boris Kuschnir, performed in front of His Holiness a version of the tango of the Uruguayan composer Gerardo Matos Rodríguez ‘La Cumparsita’ in its arrangement for solo violin, made by Vicente Zito, in Mendoza, Argentina.
The Holy Father and his assistants applauded passionately the performance and the Pope told the young violinist "you have a brilliant career ahead of you" while thanking her and her family for their presence.
It was the last and longest individual audience and a few minutes before Pope Francis left for Budapest Airport, as he passed Pilar Policano, he put his arm out of the window, and made a thumbs-up gesture of approval and – with an honest smile – said to her for all to hear: "Bravo, Bravo."
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