Feast of Sts. Ludmilla of Bohemia, Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, Agnes of Prague, Clare of Assisi, Agnes of Assisi, and Hortulana of Assisi (March 2)   Leave a comment

premyslid-dynasty-coat-of-arms

Above:  Coat of Arms of the Premyslid Dynasty

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT LUDMILLA OF BOHEMIA (CIRCA 860-SEPTEMBER 16, 921)

Duchess of Bohemia and Martyr

Her feast transferred from September 16

grandmother of

SAINT WENCESLAUS I OF BOHEMIA (907-SEPTEMBER 28, 929)

Duke of Bohemia and Martyr

His feast transferred from September 28

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SAINT AGNES OF PRAGUE (1205-MARCH 6, 1282)

Bohemian Princess and Nun

Also known as Saint Agnes of Bohemia

Her feast day = March 2

Alternative feast days = March 6 and June 8

corresponded with

SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI (JULY 16, 1194-AUGUST 11, 1253)

Foundress of the Poor Clares

Her feast transferred from August 11

Alternative feast days = August 12, September 23, and October 3

sister of

SAINT AGNES OF ASSISI (1197-NOVEMBER 16, 1253)

Abbess at Monticelli

Her feast transferred from November 16

daughter of

SAINT HORTULANA OF ASSISI (DIED CIRCA 1238)

Poor Clare Nun

Also known as Saint Ortulana of Assisi

Her feast transferred from January 2

Alternative feast days = January 5 and August 18

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One of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize influences and relationships.  This post, with family functioning as the connective tissue, is consistent with that goal.

St. Methodius (circa 815-885), a great missionary bishop, converted Duke Borivoj I of Bohemia (reigned 867-889) and his wife, St. Ludmilla of Bohemia (circa 860-921) to Christianity.  The sovereigns’ attempts to convert their subjects prompted much opposition, even an exile.  Their oldest son, Spythinev I (reigned 894-915), preceded his younger brother, Vratislaus I (reigned 915-921), who seems to have died during a pagan uprising, in power.  The Dukes of Bohemia at the time had to contend with the domestic policy issue of Christianity vs. paganism and the foreign policy issue of whether to align the duchy with the East or with the West.  These issues created much turmoil in Bohemia.  Vratislaus I’s widow was Drahomira (circa 877 or 890-died after 934), daughter of a pagan chief.  She had made baptismal vows on her wedding day yet did not take them seriously.

Two princes–both of them minors–stood to succeed to the throne.  St. Ludmilla, who supervised the education of St. Wenceslaus I (907-929), her grandson, served as regent for him briefly until Drahomira ordered her assassination and took over as regent.  Drahomira instituted a program of persecuting Christians.  The following year, however, St. Wenceslaus I reached the age of majority, assumed power, exiled his mother, and reversed her policies.  He also allied the Duchy of Bohemia with Germany, which sent enough priests to serve in long-vacant parishes.  Our saint’s reign was brief, for his brother, Boleslav I “the Cruel” (reigned 929-972), ordered and participated in his assassination at a church door in 929.

Centuries later, when the same dynasty still governed Bohemia, another Wenceslaus I (reigned 1230-1253) wielded power as the King (not Duke).  He was a kinsman of St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231).  The king had a sister, St. Agnes of Prague (1205-1282), who avoided a series of arranged marriages and became a nun.  She built a Franciscan hospital on land her brother (the King of Bohemia) donated.  St. Agnes also founded the Confraternity of the Crusaders of the Red Star to staff the hospital and its clinics.  In 1234, with the help of St. Clare of Assisi, with whom she corresponded for about 20 years, St. Agnes founded the Convent of St. Saviour, Prague.  (St. Clare sent five nuns.)  St. Agnes became the abbess of that abbey.  The good works to which she devoted herself included cooking for other nuns and mending the clothes of lepers.

St. Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) also came from a privileged family and devoted her life to serving God in the poor.  She was a daughter of Count Favorino Sciffi of Sasso-Rosso and St. Hortulana of Assisi (died circa 1238) and a sister of St. Agnes of Assisi (1197-1253).  St. Clare also preferred monastic life to an arranged marriage.  In 1212 the 15-year-old saint made her vows before St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1226) and founded the Poor Clares, who lived austerely and helped the poor.  A few weeks later, her younger sister, St. Agnes of Assisi, joined her.  Both monastic vocations prompted strong opposition in certain relatives, who eventually became resigned to the fact of their monastic lives.  St. Clare led the order, partially a family matter, for the rest of her life.  St. Agnes founded Poor Clare communities.  She also became the abbess at Monticelli in 1221.  The widowed St. Hortulana joined the order too.  St. Agnes also tended to the dying St. Clare, whom she followed in death shortly after her older sister’s demise.

Families are, when they function as they ought to do, nurseries of faith and kindness.  One might wonder what kind of man St. Wenceslaus I might have become without the positive influence of his grandmother.  One might also recognize that Sts. Clare and Agnes of Assisi learned their faith at home and in church, and that they influenced their mother in turn.  One might also wonder if St. Agnes of Prague would have been as successful in her vocation without the aid of her brother (the King of Bohemia) and St. Clare of Assisi.

May we support and encourage each other in our vocations from God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 1, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS:  THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS

WORLD DAY OF PEACE

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Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth:

Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by the fellowship of love and prayer,

and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy.

We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit,

and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:7-11

Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 25:1-13

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 726

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