July 5th is a national holiday in the Czech Republic commemorating Saints Cyril and Methodius, Greek missionaries who brought Christianity to the Czech lands in 863. They also created the Cyrillic alphabet and translated the Gospels and liturgical books into Slavonic, which at that time had no written form. The two brothers are considered the founders of Slavic literature.
As every year on this day thousands of believers made a pilgrimage to Velehrad in south Moravia, where the missionaries were based. Addressing a congregation of some 30 thousand believers Cardinal Miloslav Vlk said the Church should move with the times and come closer to the people. He said it was vital to present the New Testament in a manner comprehensible to today's young generation. The mass, served by archbishop Jan Graubner, was held out in the open air and dozens of people collapsed in the scorching heat. Medics on standby said people suffered largely from dehydration and sunstroke.
The outgoing prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, spent July 5th in the Moravian highlands visiting ex-prime minister and former party leader Milos Zeman in order to try to convince him to return to high politics and run for a post in the Senate in the autumn elections. Senate elections are due to take place in 27 constituencies in the autumn and Mr. Paroubek said he felt that a number of strong candidates could increase the party's chances in them. Milos Zeman who was in his time regarded as a controversial leader has allegedly declined the offer.
The Sokol /or Falcon/ athletics body -a physical exercise organization founded in 1862 during the Czech national revival - is holding its 14th all-Sokol meeting at Prague's Strahov stadium this week. The event culminates with a mass gym performance at the stadium involving some 18 thousand gymnasts of all ages. Czech expats from around the world are taking part. The Sokol athletics body is one of the oldest organizations in the world. Its modern era began with its revival after the fall of communism but even during the dark period of Czech history ex-pats around the world kept its spirit alive. The all-Sokol meeting takes place once in six years.
Czech national team manager Karel Brueckner will sign on for a further two years as the coach of the national Czech football squad, in a deal that is as good as signed, a top member of the national football federation has said. On Tuesday Czech and Moravian Football Federation board member Vlastimil Kostal revealed that only a few formalities now stood in the way of a new agreement. He made the announcement shortly after meeting personally with the coach. The two year extension means that 66-year-old Brueckner will manage the Czech team through qualification for the 2008 European Championships in Austria and Switzerland.
Thursday is should be another scorching hot day with clear skies and temperatures reaching 32 degrees Celsius, but the end of the week is expected to bring some relief with rain in places and a drop in temperatures to between 24 and 28 degrees.
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