St.Adalbert of Prague
Feast Day : April 23
Also known as: Apostle of the Prussians; Adelbert; Voitech, Voytiekh, Voytech, Wojtech; Apostle of Bohemia Christened Wojtech, Adalbert was born in Libice, Bohemia, to a princely family. The dates of his birth are placed anywhere from 939 to 956. He studied under archbishop St. Adalbert of Magdeburg and took his mentor’s name when the archbishop died in 981. Adalbert became the second bishop of Prague in 983, but his righteous efforts to convert the Bohemian pagans made an enemy of Duke Boleslaus II of Bohemia, and Adalbert left for Rome in 990. Released from his responsibilities by Pope John XV (r. 985–996), Adalbert joined the Benedictine monastery of SS. Boniface and Alexius. But two years later, Duke Boleslaus agreed to accept Adalbert’s authority, and Pope John XV sent Adalbert back to Prague. The Bohemian people cheered his return, and he founded the monastery of Brevnov with Majolus of Cluny. Adalbert’s relations with Duke Boleslaus and the nobility worsened, however, after an adulterous but penitent noblewoman seeking sanctuary in a convent was dragged out and killed. Adalbert excommunicated everyone involved and was forced to flee again to Rome in 995. This time Boleslaus massacred some of Adalbert’s family, and he did not return to Prague. Adalbert’s next mission was to Hungary, where he evangelized the Magyars and may have baptized Kings Geysa and Stephen. But at the invitation of Prince Boleslaus I of Poland, he traveled to Pomerania to evangelize the Prussians. The Prussian nobility and the pagan priests liked him no better than had the Bohemians, and Adalbert and his missionaries were assassinated as Polish spies in 997 near Danzig. One account says Prince Boleslaus I buried Adalbert’s body at Gniezno, Poland; another says that the prince ransomed the body for its weight in gold. Despite his disappointments, Adalbert exercised considerable influence. He was friends with Holy Roman Emperor Otto III and inspired St. Boniface of Querfurt. Adalbert composed Czech and Polish hymns in the vernacular and is credited with writing the Polish battle song, “Boga-Rodzica.” His righteous zeal for religious compliance, which was not well appreciated, included extraction of the teeth of anyone found breaking fast on a holy day. His relics were taken to Prague in 1039.