Saturday, 30 April 2011

Ludmila of Bohemia

Saint Ludmila, born in Mělník, north of Prague, was the consort of Duke Bořivoj I of Bohemia. The princely couple, who reigned in the ninth century, were early converts to Christianity under the guidance of SS Cyril and Methodius.

In the year 921, Ludmila's grandson Wenceslas succeeded to the dukedom of Bohemia, but his mother Drahomíra, suspicious of her mother-in-law's influence over the fourteen-year-old prince, had her strangled with her own veil at the castle of Tetín near Beroun.

In this image, one of many splendid stained glass windows in the neo-gothic church dedicated to Ludmila in Náměstí Míru, Ludmila is seen wearing the ducal hat of Bohemia and holding in her left hand a palm frond - the iconographic symbol of martyrdom.

Saint Ludmila is the patron saint (16 September) of Bohemia, converts, the Czech Republic, duchesses, widows... and those with problems with their in-laws.

Her mortal remains are housed in the basilica of St George in Prague Castle, and this fine 14th century reliquary bust (not my photo) is on show in the Mediaeval section of the National Gallery in St Agnes's Cloister, not far from the Old Town Square. It was probably commissioned by Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.

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