st.Wenceslaus-Duke of Bohemia, patron saint of Bohemia and of other parts of the present Czech Republic, martyr

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Feast Day : September 28



Patronage: Czech Republic



Also known as: Wenceslas



Wenceslaus was born near Prague, the older of two sons of Ratislav, king of Bohemia, and his wife, Drahomira. He was raised by his grandmother, Ludmila, a convert. He was still a boy when his father was killed fighting the Magyars. Drahomira assumed control of the government and pursued a vigorous anti-Christian policy and a cruel reign. Fearing the influence of Ludmila, Drahomira had her strangled in her castle. Wenceslaus overthrew his mother in about 924 or 925 and banished her to Budech. After Wenceslaus restored a more moderate reign that encouraged Christianity, he recalled his mother, who evidently posed no further problem. But when the duke married and had a son, his brother Boleslaus (also Boleslav) lost his succession to the throne, and began plotting against him. Wenceslaus also lost popularity as a result of his capitulation to the invading German king, Henry I the Fowler. In September 929 Boleslaus invited Wenceslaus to celebrate the feast of its patron saints, Cosmas and Damian. As Wenceslaus went to Mass on the morning after the festival, Boleslaus and his companion knights attacked him. The two brothers fought, and then the friends of Boleslaus killed the duke. Wenceslaus immediately was proclaimed a martyr, and miracles were reported at his tomb. Fearful of the growing cult, Boleslaus three years later had the body translated to the Church of St. Vitus in Prague, which then became a site of pilgrimage. Wenceslaus is featured in the Christmas carol, “Good King Wenceslaus.”

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