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In recent years the attention of a number of observers has been drawn to an increasingly popular, entirely informal prayer practice in written form. More and more books, visitors’ books and guestbooks are appearing at our shrines for visitors to record requests, prayers and declarations of gratitude, and their pages are filled with individual prayers. They are unusual because they allow us to observe a special communication situation, the written representation of an informal, non-normalised, oral manifestation. The writing often objectifies and even ritualises this special act of prayer. The guestbooks of shrines and parish churches offer everyone access to a forum for these exceptional occasions. In this article I would like to present such guestbooks, collected at Hungarian shrines, and the conclusions drawn from their comparative analysis.

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The topic of my presentation is the intriguing alterations in the functions of religious memorials in a village in Northern Hungary. Máriakálnok, a settlement once nearly exclusively inhabited by German families, as a popular shrine, has numerous religious memorials. The roadside crosses, images on pedestals or the former hermit’s hut are parts of the cult around the shrine as well as have their own religious signifi cance. Historical events have, however, made grave changes in the life of this small settlement. After the Second World War, the German population was relocated and was replaced by Hungarian families from various regions of the country. They had their own traditions and their own customs. This resulted in the decrease in the importance of the shrine and left the religious memorials abandoned and gradually destroyed. Recently, the few remaining German families alongside with the relocated population have regained the right to cherish and present its history so the religious memorials regained their importance. They became an integral part of the historical memory of the former German population.

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In the last few decades in more and more churches and places of pilgrimage books with different names can be found. There are personal prayers, thanksgivings to God, Virgin Mary and Saints in them. This is a special modern form of communication with the Transcendent which is more and more widespread in Hungary. What brings somebody to write his or her most inner thoughts, problems and suffering into a book which is available for everybody entering the church or the chapel? Who are these people? The study is looking for the answers to these questions.

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Authors: Zsuzsanna Muntag-Tabajdi, Anikó Báti, László Mód, Krisztina Frauhammer, Lehel Peti, László Lukács and Julianna Örsi
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Authors: Ágnes Hesz, Tünde Turai, Csaba Mészáros, Imre Gráfik, Krisztina Frauhammer, Bernadett Smid and Zoltán Nagy
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Authors: Terézia Kerny, Krisztina Frauhammer, Anikó Báti, Magdolna N. Szabó, Netta Nagy, Éva Rimai, Gyula Viga, Ferenc Fodor, András Simon, Zsófia Palla, Bertalan Pusztai and Zsóka Tomán

Gábor BARNA(Hrsg.): „Mária megsegített". Fogadalmi tárgyak Máriaradnán I-II.-„Maria hat geholfen." Votivgegenstände in Maria-Radna I-II. (Devotio Hungarorum 9/I-II.) Szeged 2002. I. Band: 292 Seiten, II. Band: 295 Seiten, 123 Farb-, 549, Schwarz-Weiß-Fotos; Szegedi Vallási Néprajzi Könyvtár-Bibliotheca Religionis Popularis Szegedien-sis. Bd. 1-4. 1.; Gábor BARNA(Hrsg.): Szentemberek-a vallásos élet szervezô egyéniségei [Heilige Menschen-Organisatorische Persönlichkeiten des religiösen Lebens]. Budapest-Szeged 1998, 395 Seiten; 2.; Gábor BARNA(Hrsg.): Religious Movements and Communities in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Szeged 1999, 174, Seiten; 3. Bertalan; PUSZTAI (Hrsg.): Szent és profán között. A szeged-alsóvárosi búcsú-Between the Sacred and the Profane. The Pilgrimage Feast of Szeged-Alsóváros. Szeged 1999, 189 Seiten, 35 Abb.; 4.; László JÓZSA: Megszentelt kövek. Kápolnák, szobrok, keresztek és temetôk Kunszentmártonban-Geweihte Steine. Kapellen, Statuen, Kreuze und Friedhöfe in Kunszentmárton. Szeged 1999, 430 Seiten, 199 Abb.; Gábor BARNA(ed.): A szenttisztelet történeti rétegei és formái Magyarországon és Közép-Európában. A magyar szentek tisztelete [Historical Strata and forms of Veneration of the Saints in Hungary and Central Europe. Veneration of the Hungarian Saints]. (Bibliotheca Religionis Popularis Szegediensis 8.) Szeged 2001, 294 pp.; Gábor BARNA et alii: Egy szent raktár-A Sacred Depot (Devotio Hungarorum 10.) Szeged 2003, 94 pages, appendix: 189 black and white and colour photographs; Die religionsethnologische Quellenpublikationsreihe Devotio Hungarorum 1. János SÁVAI-Tamás GRYNAEUS: Tüdô Vince betegei-Die Kranken von Vince Tüdô. Szeged 1944, 144 Seiten, 6 Abb. 2. Zoltán SZILÁRDFY: A magánáhítat szentképei a szerzô gyûjteményébôl I. 17-18. század- Kleine Andachtsbilder des Barock aus der Sammlung des Verfassers I. 17.-18. Jahrhundert. Szeged 1995, 93 Seiten, 816 Abb. 4. Zoltán SZILÁRDFY: A magánáhítat szentképei a szerzô gyûjteményébôl II. 19-20. század-Kleine Andachtsbilder des Barock aus der Sammlung des Verfassers II. 19.-20. Jahrhundert. Szeged 1997, 93 Seiten, 816 Abb. 3. Gábor BARNA: A tállyai Fáklyás Társulat jegyzôkönyvei-Documents of the Candle-bearers' Confraternity in Tállya. Szeged 1996, 234 Seiten, 10 Abb. 5. Gábor BARNA: Az Élô Rózsafüzér kunszentmártoni társulatának jegyzôkönyvei, 1851-1940-Minutes of the Living Rosary Confraternity in Kunszentmárton, 1851-1940. Szeged 1998, 334 Seiten, 16 Abb. 6. Krisztina FRAUHAMMER: Levelek Máriához. A máriakálnoki kegyhely vendég-könyve-Briefe an Maria. Das Gästebuch des Gnadenorts Máriakálnok/Gahling. Szeged 1999.; Antal JUHÁSZ (Hrsg.): Településformák, népi építészet, földmûvelés. (Néprajziszöveggyûjtemény) [Siedlungsformen, Volksarchitektur, Ackerbau. Ethnographische Textsammlung]. Auswahl, Druckvorbereitung und Zusammenstellung der Bibliographie: Antal Juhász und András Simon. Szeged: JATEPress 2000, 214 Seiten; Bertalan PUSZTAI (ed.): Megalkotott hagyományok és falusi turizmus. A pusztamérgesi eset-Invented Traditions and Village Tourism. The Pusz tamérges Case. Szeged 2003, 232 pp.; Tibor BELLON: A Tisza néprajza. Ártéri gazdálkodás a tiszai Alföldön [Ethnography of the River Tisza. Farming on the River Flats along the Tisza on the Great Plain]. Budapest: Timp Kiadó 2003, 231 pp.; László MÓD-András SIMON: A hajtástól az újborig. A szôlô és bor ünnepei a Lendva-vidéken [Vom Rebling bis zum Heurigen. Trauben- und Weinfeste im Lendava-Kreis]. Lendva 2002, 159 Seiten, 19 Fotos; Gyermekkorom faluja. Forgácsok Göncz János hetési képeibôl, emlékeibôl [Dorf meiner Kindheit. Bilder- und Erinnerungssplitter von János Göncz aus Hetés]. Konzeption, Einleitung und Textbetreuung von Tibor BELLON. Lendva 2001, 92 Seiten; Katalin SERES: Pusztai vadóc [Steppenwildfang]. Mesterszállás o. J., 587 Seiten, 29 Farb- und 12 Schwarz-Weiß-Bilder; Luther H. MARTIN, Iva DOLEZALOVA, Dalibor PAPOUSEK(eds): The Academic Study of Religion During the Cold War: East and West. Berlin: Peter Lang Publishing 2001, xvii + 336 pp.; Ian MACDOUGALL: Bondagers. Eight Scots Women Farm Workers. (Flashbacks 10.) East Linton: Tuckwell Press 2000, 240 pp. 1 map, photo illustrations

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