Torn down by angry mob over 100 years ago, image is now seen as a sign of reconciliation.
The Marian column was erected to “the singing of Marian songs, the ringing of bells on the tower of the Mother of God in front of Týn [Church] and the applause of the people present,” Karel Kavička, a founding member of an association to restore the statue, told Catholic News Agency.
The 50-foot column overlooks Prague’s Old Town Square. Sandstone for the statue and the column on which it now stands came from the Czech Republic, Italy and India.
The original statue was erected in thanksgiving after Prague was spared at the end of the Thirty Years’ War. But when the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated during the First World War, so did the statue.
“In 1918, as the Habsburgs entered the history books, and a new country — Czechoslovakia — emerged from the ashes of Austro-Hungary, symbols of centuries of Catholic supremacy and Habsburg rule became targets of nationalist fervor,” said a BBC report. “On November 3, 1918, the statue was brought crashing down by a mob led by a man named Franta Sauer, a notorious writer and Bohemian (in the artistic sense) from the working-class Prague suburb of Zizkov.”
The idea of restoring the statue faced other kinds of opposition when the Marian Column Restoration Society was formed in 1990. It was the end of the Soviet era, but Czechoslovakia is said to be one of the world’s most atheist countries. Representatives of Protestant churches also voiced opposition.
Now, however, many Protestants and non-believers support the project because of the statue’s historic and artistic importance in Prague, Kavička told CNA.
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