Wenceslaus, martyr – September 28th
St Wenceslaus (d. 935, Stará Boleslav, Czech Republic) (Relics: Prague, Czech Republic)
First Class Relics
Cathedral of St Vitus
Hrad III. Nádvoří
119 00 Prague, Czech Republic
*St Wenceslaus, a 10th century duke of Bohemia, is buried within a large chapel on the right side of the nave. Frescoes upon the wall of this chapel depict scenes from his life including his martyrdom. Each year on September 28th the relic of his skull is processed from St Vitus Cathedral to the church where he was martyred in Stará Boleslav. This twelve mile walk is well attended and includes the Castle Guards of the Prague Castle.
*In 1039 Bohemia achieved a key military victory in Gniezno, the capital city of Poland. According to Bohemian tradition among the spoils of victory returned to Bohemia following this victory were the relics of St Adalbert. In the spring of 2014 a special ceremony was held to honor these relics. During this ceremony some of the relics were placed within a new ornamental-house shaped reliquary. This reliquary was then placed within the Old Archbishop’s Chapel in the cathedral. The skull of the saint, which is kept separate, was placed within the Hilbert Treasury. The remaining relics remain within St Vitus Cathedral and rest within an altar located to the left of the main sanctuary. A sign in Czech located below this altar reads ‘Ostatky Svatého Vojtěcha Druhého Pražského Biskupa (982-997)’. (As noted on the following page this Bohemian tradition is disputed by the Gniezno Cathedral which continues to claim possession of St Adalbert’s relics.)
*A relic of the head of St Luke is preserved in this church. It was brought here by Charles IV in 1354. A recent study on this relic was conducted at the request of Archbishop Antonio Mattiazzo of Padua in 1998. This study seems to suggest that the authentic relic of St Luke’s head is the one located here and not the one found in the Treasury Museum of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy.
*The remains of St John of Nepomuk (d. 1393) rest within a beautiful tomb just to the right of the main sanctuary. The tomb’s odd placement creates a bottleneck for the pilgrims who are making their rounds through the church. His tomb is marked ‘Stříbrný Náhrobek Svatého Jana Nepomuckého (1345-1393)’. Also outside of the cathedral upon Charles Bridge is a large statue of St John of Nepomuk. This statue marks the spot where St John was thrown to his death in 997 for refusing to betray the seal of Confession.