On the discovery of St John of Nepomuk in Prague

St John of Nepomuk, Prague

St John of Nepomuk

Have you ever thought about what it takes to become a saint? Perhaps you need to do just enough good deeds and spread love to the people around you. Maybe then, the people whose lives you’ve touched will finally decide to call you a saint among men. No doubt, the thought of being perceived as a saint sounds beautiful. It’s definitely beyond feeling good about yourself, but actually knowing that you’ve indeed touched lives.

Well, becoming a saint is not as rosy as it seems. Oftentimes, the stories behind people who’re considered saints are tainted with grief and life-threatening trials. That’s pretty much the story behind the silent Saint John of Nepomuk in Prague.

Czech martyrs and patrons

For every city or community, there are often certain renowned persons in history who’re often seen as heroes. Founders of culture or civilization are likewise revered as patrons and oftentimes prayed to for guidance. For some other persons in history, they gain the status of being heroes via martyrdom or sacrificing themselves for a cause. These martyrs and patrons serve as a foundation upon which the growth and beliefs of a particular community are built on. For the people of Czechia, there are a handful of martyrs and patrons whom they regard with high reverence.

Czech martyrs
Czech martyrs

For starters, the history of the Czech Republic is incomplete without mentioning the patron Saint of Prague Saint Wenceslaus. Under his leadership as the Duke of Bohemia, his people experienced prosperity. Unfortunately, the Duke fell to assassination by his own brother who was negatively inspired by other nobles. Thanks to his exploits for Bohemia, he was immediately venerated as a martyr and saint after his death. Statues in his honor stand in the Wenceslas Square, and St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle. A unique fact about his venerated statue in the cathedral is that the sculpting of the head fits accurately with St. Wenceslaus’s actual head.

Martyrs such as John Hus, Jerome of Prague, and John of Nepomuk are widely known across Czechia. The stories of their lives are what make them highly revered in Prague.

What is St. John of Nepomuk known for?

For every martyr or saint, there’s a story to tell. For St. John of Nepomuk, his story is about loyalty to the Church and its laws. His strong loyalty to upholding the traditions of the Church despite the wishes of King Wenceslaus IV caused his martyrdom. Although there are two stories concerning St. John of Nepomuk, he is majorly known for upholding the statute of secrecy for confessions. St. John of Nepomuk served as the confessor for the Queen, and this meant he knew certain secrets. The king wished to find out what his queen had said in confession, but St. John of Nepomuk refused. This was in accordance with the Church tradition of upholding secrecy on confessions. 

Unfortunately, the king was enraged by such defiance and ordered his arrest and torture. St. John of Nepomuk remained silent all through his torture even till death by drowning in the Vltava River. What even made his sainthood much more valid was that a heavy drought struck not long after his death. This was viewed as divine punishment for the king’s wickedness.

Where to find statues of the legendary St. John of Nepomuk in Prague?

prague : On the discovery of St-John of Nepomuk
Prague : On the discovery of St-John of Nepomuk

Different statues of the silent saint can be found across Prague. Some notable places you can find the statue of St. John of Nepomuk include:

  • The Charles Bridge where the silent saint was thrown from into the Vltava River also has a statue in his honor.
  • The cultural monument standing in front of the Church of St. Procopius.
  • The Břevnov Monastery.
  • The St. Remigio’s Church Cultural heritage.

A major belief in Czechia is that you should touch the statue of St. John of Nepomuk for safety when traveling. He is also seen as the role model of keeping secrets. When next you’re sharing with friends, trust that their loyalty will be just like that of the silent saint.

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