Embassies as Safe Houses
Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty was the highest Catholic official in Hungary in the mid-20th century, and a vociferous opponent of communism. After WWII, as the Soviet Union’s political influence extended through Eastern Europe, Mindszenty was tried, convicted of treason in 1949, and sentenced to life in prison. He was released in 1956 during a political reform movement, which the Soviet army quickly suppressed. Realizing his life was in danger, Mindszenty sought and received asylum as a political dissident at U.S. Embassy Budapest on November 4, 1956—the same day of the Soviet invasion. The Cardinal remained at the embassy for 15 years, leaving in 1971 to seek medical treatment in Vienna, where he died in 1975. Before leaving the embassy, he gave his missal to an American Foreign Service Officer in gratitude to the United States. Now in our collection, the missal is a liturgical book containing instructions, prayers, and texts necessary for the celebration of Catholic Mass throughout the year.