September: Pope visits Tallinn

Pope visits Tallinn

Tallinn came to a standstill on 25 September 2018 with the visit of Pope Francis to the capital. The Pope was in Estonia for one day as part of a whistle-stop tour of the Baltic nations.

Estonia is a Protestant nation, the largest congregation being the Lutheran Church, still, the Pope received a rapturous and warm Estonian welcome. Over 10,000 people crowded into Freedom Square on Tuesday to hear the Pope give mass.
The visit made headlines around the world with the Pope addressing some challenges the Catholic church in restoring its reputation.

“We know –- and you have told us –- that many young people do not turn to us for anything because they don’t feel we have anything meaningful to say to them,” the pope said.
“In fact, some of them expressly ask us to leave them alone, because they feel the Church’s presence as bothersome or even irritating.”

“These are just a few of your complaints. We want to respond to them. As you yourselves put it, we want to be a ‘transparent, welcoming, honest, inviting, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community,'” Pope Francis continued.

Estonia’s Catholic community expressed some surprise that the visit of the Pope had generated such interest and excitement.

“I am very glad that interest has even exceeded my and other church leaders hopes,” Apostolic Administrator of Estonia Bishop Phillippe Jourdan told Estonian TV.

“This means that we can believe in our youth,” Jourdan said.

The Pope also met with young people at the recently renovated St. Charles’ Church.

Local and national leaders met with the Pope including President Kersti Kaljulaid and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

The Prime Minister and  Pope Francis had a brief discussion about the pope’s impressions of Estonia and crisis relief around the world.
“Along with the head of the Catholic Church, a large part of the world turned their gaze toward Estonia today. They saw our country and heard the story of our hundred years, which includes many moments of beauty and pride, but also grievous suffering under foreign powers,” Ratas said.

The last papal visit was Pope John Paul II in 1993 soon after Estonia achieved its re-independence in 1991.

International Charity Concert marks 100 years of Estonian International relations

This year marks not only the 100 years anniversary of Estonia but also the jubilee of the sovereignty of several other nations around the world. Today Estonia has diplomatic relations with many other countries.

To mark the occasion, Tallinn City Council and several of the embassies in Tallinn have joint together in a charity concert celebration on Friday 28 September.

The city is confident the International Greeting Card EV100 is a timeless musical and vibrant cultural event which celebrates the goodwill that Tallinners of all walks of life have towards the international community.

The historical symbol of the event is the first Estonian Tallinn city mayor Jaan Poska who played an important role in the declaration of independence served as the first Estonian foreign minister, and took part in the Tartu Peace negotiations.
The receipts from the charity concert will go towards the children’s hospital charity fund and help to build a future for vulnerable little Tallinners.

The join charity concert takes place in co-operation with the Tallinn Chamber orchestra, The US, Brazilian, Irish, Japanese, Greek, Latvia, Romania, and Belarus Embassies in Tallinn.

Performers at the event come from all of these countries including a dance troupe Wa League from Japan and road music from the United States of America and the pianist Ellen Jansson from Ireland.

The concert’s artistic director is Risto Joost. Director for the evening is Hanna-Linna Võsa.

Victims of Communism Memorial

Tallinn is now the home to a memorial to the victims of communism which was opened in August 2018
The names of the 22,000 people murdered or worked to death in forced labour camps in Russian during Stalin’s terror are engraved on the plaque.

The site is a thoughtful reminder of the struggle the nation had to go through to win its freedom.

“This site will be a permanent reminder of the fragility of freedom and human life and will appeal to the Estonian people of today and tomorrow to keep their home – free Estonia,” the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, an NGO to maintain the memorial and its victims’ lists, said in a statement.

The memorial is made of two parts the  “Journey” the list of victims and the “Home Garden” which is a park with apple tree which symbolises the longing to return home.

It is estimated that Estonia lost 200,000 people or a fifth of its population during the period of Soviet occupation which lasted from June 1940 with a break for Nazi occupation in 1941 until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Today, most people murdered remain in unnamed graves without crosses. The Soviet Union started to round people up after marching into Estonia in June of 1940.

Most of Estonia’s political and cultural elites were targeted and thousands of people were loaded into cattle trains and sent to Siberia. Some died on route and many more were worked to death in the years that followed.

The memorial is meant to rehabilitate those people who have been extrajudicially repressed or unfairly convicted by the Soviet occupying regime from 1940-1991. It includes a database of persons who perished directly in the course of communist terror; sufferers who were released from imprisonment or exile; persons who were on the lists to be deported but who were not deported, and persons whose fate is unknown.