King and Martyr (907-929)
+ Wenceslaus, the son of Duke Vratislav I, was born in Prague. His family had been converted to the Christian Faith through the preaching of Saints Cyril and Methodius. Wenceslaus’ grandmother and primary teacher was Saint Ludmilla.
+ Following his father’s murder by a group of pagans opposed to the Christianizing of Bohemia, Wenceslaus became Grand Duke of Bohemia.
+ Wenceslaus was murdered as he was making his way to church by his brother Boleslaus, who desired the crown for himself. Although he was murdered for political reasons, he was honored as a martyr because, it was said, his political policies were inspired by his faith.
+ For centuries, Saint Wenceslaus has been honored as the patron saint lands that now include the Czech Republic and Moravia. He is also honored as the patron saint of brewers.
Saint Wenceslaus is the subject of the popular Christmas carol “Good King Wencesalus.” The text for the carol first published in 1853 by the English hymnwriter John Mason Neale and the melody is that of a 13th century spring-time carol “Tempus adest floridum.” Neale might have based his lyrics on an early poem by the Czech poet Václav Alois Svoboda.
“Whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”—Matthew 10:38-39
O God, who taught the Martyr Saint Wenceslaus
to place the heavenly Kingdom before an earthly one,
grant through his prayers that, denying ourselves,
we may hold fast to you with all our heart.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)