As part of the treaties signed around Paris to end World War I, the Treaty of Trianon, signed by the parties on June 4, 1920, defined Hungary’s new borders. It resulted in the Kingdom of Hungary losing more than 67% of its total area of 325,411 km2 (which dropped to 92,952 km2) and more than half of its population (Hungary had 18 million inhabitants in 1910, which dropped to 7 million after the Treaty). The redefining of the nation’s borders led to “Hungarians living abroad” who were left outside their country’s borders but remain in close contact with their nation to this day.
Hungarians living in Romania
The largest re-annexed territory included more than one and a half million people: the Hungarians living in the area make up Romania’s largest national minority. In addition to the Hungarians living in the central and western areas of today’s Transylvania, the Székelys and the Moldovan Csángós comprise separate ethnic groups.
The Székelys are an ethnic group living in the eastern part of Transylvania, called Székelyföld (or Székely Land). They number approximately 700,000 people who have preserved their culture and a certain degree of independence to this day. The pilgrimage in Șumuleu Ciuc is a Székely tradition dating back to the Middle Ages and has grown to become the most important Christian event of the year for all Hungarians. The pilgrimage at the Șumuleu Ciuc church involves hundreds of thousands of participants and takes place at Pentecost every year, with an open-air mass in the saddle between the nearby Kissomlyó and Nagysomlyó mountains. In 2019, Pope Francis celebrated the mass at the pilgrimage, on occasion of his apostolic visit to Romania. In his homily addressed to the pilgrims, the Pope said, “We should neither forget nor deny the sad and complex past events, but they should not constitute neither obstacles nor excuses for preventing the desired brotherly co-existence. To go on pilgrimage is to feel called and compelled to journey together, asking the Lord for the grace to change past and present resentments and mistrust into new opportunities for fellowship.”
Moldovan Csángós are Hungarian-speaking Catholics who live in Romania’s Moldavian region. Today, they number around 62 thousand.
Of the 16 counties that today make up Transylvania, Hungarians form a majority in two (Harghita: 84% and Covasna: 73%). Cluj-Napoca is the most important cultural center of both the historic and present-day Transylvania.
The following dioceses are led by Hungarians:
The Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Alba Iulia is Gergely Kovács.
László Böcskei is the Diocesan Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oradea.
Jenő Schönberger is the Diocesan Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Satu Mare.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Timișoara is led by Diocesan Bishop József Csaba Pál.
Hungarians living in Slovakia
Czechoslovakia was second in terms of population figures of Hungarians annexed to other countries. At the time of the Treaty of Trianon, close to one million Hungarians were living in the nation’s southern regions. Currently, 8.5% of the population considers themselves Hungarian. Their plight was very difficult after World War 2, due to forced displacements and persecution. Today, more than ten thousand Hungarians live in the cities of Komárno, Bratislava, and Dunajská Streda. The Hungarian population exceeds 10% in more than five hundred settlements, with Hungarians making up the majority in more than three hundred of these. Hungarians also make up more than 50% of the population of 12 cities.
Hungarians living in Ukraine
At the time of the Treaty of Trianon, 180,000 Hungarians lived in the area; although this figure has since dwindled, its percentage compared to the overall population has remained constant at slightly over 10%. Today, Hungarians live in a close-knit group in the lowlands of western Ukraine and in a number of settlements around the upper sections of the Tisza, Latorica, and Borzhava rivers. Hungarians live in more than one hundred settlements and form a majority in almost eighty of those. Hungarians in western Ukraine live in harsher conditions than the Hungarians left in other countries, in “respectable poverty”. Since the start of the Russian-Ukraine war, 150,000 internally displaced persons have moved here, mainly to the cities.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Mukachevo is led by a Hungarian pastor, Bishop Miklós P. Lucsok, OP.
Hungarians living in Serbia
There are almost 300,000 Hungarians living in the Vojvodina region in Serbia. The majority live close to the Hungarian-Serbian border, with some scattered to the south. Novi Sad formerly served as their main intellectual and cultural center, a role that has gradually been taken over by the city of Subotica in the 1990s.
Hungarian Roman Catholic pastors:
László Német, SVD the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Belgrade and the Prelate of the Diocese of Zrenjanin.
Ferenc Fazekas is the Prelate of the Diocese of Subotica.