Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Today in the Czech Republic we honor our beloved St. Wenceslas

Today in the Czech Republic we honor St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech Republic.  St. Wenceslas was a loved Czech King who propagated Christianity and ruled over Prague in the 10th century. 
According to legend, in September of 935, St. Wenceslas was murdered while on his way to morning religious service by the mercenaries sent by his younger brother, Boleslav I of Bohemia.   After his death, Wenceslas was canonised as a saint due to his martyr's death, as well as several reported miracles that occurred after his death.    His feast day is September 28th.

An equestrian statue of St. Wenceslas dominates Prague's Wenceslas Square, which has been the site of many important moments in history:  The Czechoslovak state was proclaimed here in 1918.  Protests against the Soviet-led invasion in 1968 took place here.  In 1969, Jan Palach, a young student, set himself on fire in protest of the Soviet occupation.  And in 1989, demonstrations in Wenceslas Square saw the fall of the communist regime.

Wenceslas Square as seen from the National Museum



Today, you can view his helmet and armour, which are on display in Prague Castle.

And of course, you know how we Czechs love a legend!  There are several legends about King Wenceslas, one of which claims that a huge army of knights sleep inside Blaník, a mountain in the Czech Republic.  The knights will awake under the command of St. Wenceslas and bring aid to the Czech people when they face ultimate danger.


Another legend says that when the Motherland is in danger in its darkest times and close to ruin, the equestrian statue of King Wenceslas will come to life, raise the sleeping army in  Blaník, and upon crossing the Charles Bridge his horse will stumble and trip over a stone, revealing the legendary sword of  Bruncvík.  With this sword, King Wenceslas will slay all of the enemies of the Czechs, bringing peace and prosperity to the land.