On the 28th and the 29th of September 2023, the ELTE University Library and Archives, in cooperation with the National Széchényi Library, the Institute of History of the Humanities Research Centre and the Archives of the Hungarian Order of the Society of Jesus, organised a series of scientific lectures to mark the 250th anniversary of the dissolution of the Society of Jesus and the 300th anniversary of the birth of George Pray.
As the opening event of the conference, Dr. Kulcsár Szabó Ernőné Gombos, Director General of the ELTE University Library and Archives, welcomed the guests, followed by the opening speech of Dr. László Borhy, Academician and Rector of Eötvös Loránd University. In his speech, the Rector commemorated the very first Jesuit period of the University, and praising the work of the Jesuit scholar György Pray, he emphasised that "we should not forget his huge collection of manuscripts, with which he created the basis for the manuscript collection of the University Library, and it is thanks to him that the manuscripts of the great Jesuit collectors of sources, Gábor Hevenesi and István Kaprinai, also found their way into our library".
For the Jesuit monk Father Zoltán Koroknai, SJ socius provincialis of the Society of Jesus of Hungary, was a special pleasure to organise the event in the building of the library palace, where György Pray once served as second guard. Recalling the serious negative consequences for György Pray of the dissolution of the Jesuit Order in 17773, he mentioned that, despite the hardships, Pray had remained a dedicated and faithful academic and library director.
In his welcome speech, Máté Vincze, Deputy State Secretary for Public Collections and Cultural Development, referred to the foundation stones laid by György Pray in the Hungarian scientific and public collections field, which can be built upon today. The way to pass on our cultural heritage to future generations is to cherish the memory of our ancestors and role models, for which this event is an excellent opportunity and example.
On the first day of the two-day conference, lectures on the educational activities of the Jesuits, the dissolution of the Society of Jesus and the work of Jesuit scholar György Pray were held in the Reading Hall of the ELTE University Library.
On the second day of the lecture series, expert presentations were given at the National Széchényi Library on the Pray Codex, the Funeral Sermon and Prayer, Latin (liturgical) language and vernacular.