Welcome! This blog celebrates both the local and the catholic -- that is, universal -- aspects of the Roman Catholic Church by sharing reflections on experiences of the Church in a variety of settings and cultures. Postings will come from around the world and around the corner. You don't have to be a Catholic to come along.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good St. Wenceslaus

Good King Wenceslaus looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even . . .

The feast of Stephen is, of course, the day after Christmas. Less well known is that Good King Wenceslaus, who was very good indeed, has his own feast day on Sept. 28. Probably the only reason I know that myself is that it's my birthday!

Wenceslaus I was a 10th century Duke of Bohemia, known for charity and kindness. He was martyred on the steps of a church in 935 by his brother, Boleslav I, and the brother's associates. The story of his death is part of the Office of Readings for today in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Revered as the patron saint of the Czech people and the Czech Republic, his feast day is celebrated in that country as a public holiday called Statehood Day. In Prague stands a famous statue of St. Wenceslaus and several other Bohemian patrons on Wenceslaus Square.

The saint's tomb, curiously, lies not in the Czech Republic but at a brewery in Belgium. Actually, the brewery is also a monastery -- the Abbey of Orval. (There are many "abbey beers" in Belgium, but Oval is one of the few that is still brewed in an abbey.) The Belgians were quite proud to show us the elaborate tomb,shown above, on our visit to the Abbey in 1997.

It's nice to recall that even a temporal king can also be a saint.

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