Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Better late than never...

Legend has it that when, at some future date, Bohemia is in real trouble - as if the Nazis and the Communists weren't enough - Saint Wenceslas (a.k.a. 'Good King') will emerge from his resting place under the hill of Blaník, thirty miles south-east of Prague, and ride to the defence of the realm.

You could have been forgiven for thinking the prophecy had been fulfilled this week when a twelve-foot-high statue of the saint was craned into position on the facade of the Vršovice church that bears his name. The statue was placed there on 29 September and blessed at a special service on 3 October.

Designed in 1929, this functionalist temple was constructed minus its patron, and the townsfolk of Vršovice have had to wait 80 years to see him take his rightful place on the empty plinth half way up the slender concrete tower. The half-ton bronze was created by sculptor Jan Roich, based on the one-tenth-scale maquette which had been preserved by the nephew of its original designer, Bedřich Stefan.

Wenceslas (Václav, in Czech) is often shown in this pose, striding (or riding) resolutely forth with his pennant or spear and his distinctive cap. The new statue is the latest in a long line of images of the saint to be found throughout the Czech lands.

You can read more about last week's occasion in this article from the Czech press, easily translatable using Google Translate.

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