Church service in Vienna with coloured socks because of Down Syndrome Day


Central Europe


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Next Sunday, people with Down’s syndrome will conduct a service with cathedral priest Toni Faber in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Austria’s capital Vienna. Those present will wear colourful socks. The occasion is the International Day of People with Down Syndrome on 21 March.

“Every person is unique, and no two are alike. We, therefore, with many people worldwide, wear different socks on the International Day of People with Down’s Syndrome to symbolise each person’s difference and draw attention to people with Down’s syndrome.” With these words, cathedral priest Toni Faber issued the invitation, Austrian website Glaube.at writes.

The people with Down’s syndrome will organise the service themselves; they will play music, act as altar servers, read the readings and intercessions, and act in a specially rehearsed role-play.


Numerous participants will wear different coloured socks to express their solidarity with people with Down syndrome and show that it is normal and part of being human to be different. “St Stephen’s Cathedral has a broad roof under which there is room for everyone. People with disabilities belong amid our church and our city. They have a place with God, in our church and our hearts,” Pastor Faber writes.

The motto of the church service is “I am here! – God for us and we for each other” and refers to a biblical passage from the Old Testament book of Exodus, which will be read during the service. In the Book of Exodus, chapter 3, verse 14, God is referred to by the name “I am there”. “God is there for every person. When people say to each other: ‘I am here for you’, heaven and earth touch, and God and man meet. We want to celebrate this during the service and live it in our everyday lives,” says Toni Faber.

In St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Down’s syndrome will be the subject of a special service for the twelfth time, and people will be made aware of it.

Chromosome 21

Since 2006, World Down Syndrome Day has been observed worldwide on 21 March. On this day, extra attention is paid to people with this syndrome and the people who care for them. Since 2012, World Down Syndrome Day has been a day officially recognised by the United Nations.

Down syndrome is a congenital disorder associated with mental retardation, typical external features, and sometimes medical issues. It is caused by the hereditary material of chromosome 21 occurring in triplicate (instead of in duplicate). Hence the date of 21-3 for World Down Syndrome Day.



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