Saint Wenceslas

Saint Wenceslas (or Wenceslaus; Czech: Václav) (907-935) was the son of Vratislav I, Prince of Bohemia. His father was a Christian through his father Borivoy's conversion by Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, His mother Drahomira, however, was the daughter of a pagan tribal chief who held on to the pagan belief system, as did many Czechs at the time, fearing Christianity would threaten their positions in the established pagan power structure.

When Wenceslas was thirteen his father was killed in battle and he was brought up by his grandmother, Saint Ludmilla, who raised him as a Christian. Drahomira, who was trying to garner support from the pagan nobility, was furious at her son's conversion and arranged to have Ludmilla strangled.

Having regained control of her son, Drahomira set out to convert him to the old pagan religion. Wenceslas, however, continued to practice Christianity in secrecy. After gaining the throne at the age of eighteen, he promoted the spread of Christianity throughout Bohemia both by building churches and cathedrals, such as St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, but also by his acquiescence to the rule of the Holy Roman Empire. As such, the pagan nobility of Bohemia saw Wenceslas and his faith as not only a threat to their pagan tradition, but also to their very sovereignty.

A group of these nobles allied with Wenceslas' younger brother, Boleslas, in a plot to kill the prince. In addition to having been raised in the pagan tradition by Drahomira, Boleslas had the added incentive of being Wenceslas' successor to the throne. After inviting his brother to the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian, he murdered him on his way to church and thus succeeded him as the Prince of Bohemia.

After his death, Wenceslas was canonized as a saint due to his martyr's death, as well as several purported miracles that occurred after his death. His feast day is September 28.

Various "King in the mountain" legends have been told about Wenceslas. He is also the subject of the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas"

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