+ The priests and clerics that make up this group of 14 Franciscan friars were from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic. In 1604, they were sent by their Order to Protestant-ruled Prague to learn the Czech language and to rebuild the church and friary of Our Lady of Snows.
+ In 1611, Catholic soldiers led by the archduke of Austria sacked the city. The local residents accused the friars of collaborating with the invading forces.
+ On February 15 (which happened to be “Shrove Tuesday” that year) the friars were brutally murdered in the church of Our Lady of Snows. They were buried in the friary cemetery a few days later.
+ The Martyrs of Prague were beatified in 2012.
Today the Church honors a group of martyrs who were murdered in Antioch, Syria, during the persecution of the emperor Theophilus. Murdered for their defense of the tradition of venerating sacred images, the group of seven martyrs includes the deacon and hymn-writer Joseph; the names of the other martyrs have been lost to history.
“They were killed in 1611 because of their faith… they remind us that believing in Christ also means being ready to suffer with him and for him.”—Pope Benedict XVI
Grant a joyful outcome to our prayers, O Lord, so that we, who each year devoutly honor the day of the passion of the holy Martyrs of Prague, may also imitate the constancy of their faith. 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: Common of Martyrs—For Several Martyrs)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.