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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Czech Statehood Day/St. Wenceslas Day

St. Wenceslas Basilica, Stará Boleslav. Photo by Boleslav (Own work) [Public domain]. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

Since the year 2000, September 28, St. Wenceslas Day, has been a public holiday in the Czech Republic. It is celebrated as Czech Statehood Day. Wenceslas (or Wenceslaus), also known as Václav, is the patron saint of the Czech Republic. He was Duke of Bohemia and reigned for seven years during the 10th century. He spread Christianity throughout Bohemia. He was murdered while on his way to church to celebrate the feasts of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Stará Boleslav, probably in 935, but possibly in 929.According to legend, he was murdered by his younger brother Boleslav.

Celebrations are held at Prague Castle, the residence of the President of the Czech Republic. A wreath is placed on the statue of St. Wenceslas, and St. Wenceslas medals are awarded to individuals who contributed to Czech statehood.

A pilgrimage to Stará Boleslav, the site of his assassination, takes place. This tradition was started by Charles IV, and was re-established in 2003. The Archbishop of Prague brings to Stará Boleslav. The relic arrives in a procession, along with priests and bishops. It is placed on the altar at St. Wenceslas Basilica.

Religious services are held throughout the country. On 28 September 2009, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass at Stará Boleslav.

Caroline Uhlik, the wife of my great-great-grandfather's brother John William (Johann Wilhelm) Schneider, was from Bohemia. 

Pope Benedict XVI in Stará Boleslav, Czech Republic, 28 September 2009. Photo by Boleslav (Own work) [Public domain]. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

About St. Wenceslas and September 28 in the Czech Republic
Czech Republic: Holidays and Festivals. Global Road Warrior.

Czech Statehood Day
Czech Statehood Day (St. Wenceslas Day). (2010). In Helene Henderson (Ed.), Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. Available from Credo Reference.
Dennis, Matthew, ed. Czech Republic: Holidays and Celebrations. World Geography and Culture Online. Facts On File, Inc.
Feast Day of Czech Patron Saint, St Wenceslas, in His Martyrdom
Pilgrimage to Celebrate St. Wenceslas
Saint Wenceslas to Ride in Presidential Vehicle
Stará Boleslav - The Town Where St. Wenceslas Was Slain
The Treasury. The Holy Relic Skull of St. Wenceslas.
Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia

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