St. John of Nepomuk (about 1340 – March 20, 1393)

General 1 John NepomukJohn of Nepomuk was born in about 1340 in the village of Pomuk which is located to the east of Pilsen and which, at the time when John was born, was the property of the Cistercian monastery under the hill of Zelená hora. John´s father Velfín (or Welfin) was a reeve in the village from 1355 to 1367 but we do not know anything about the mother.
Written documents mention John in 1369 for the first time; he was a public notary in Prague. Another written document makes reference to him in 1380, this time he was a chaplain in the St. Vitus Cathedral and a secretary of archbishop Jan of Jenštejn. He studied religious law in Padova between 1383 and 1387. His religious service career continued after he had returned. The later tragic fate of his was connected with the office of the Vicar General of the Archbishop of Prague: he took care of religious matters.
At the time when John was the Vicar, the dispute between his superior, archbishop Jan of Jenštejn, and King Václav IV culminated. The quarrel reached its peak at the beginning of 1393 in connection with the appointment of the new abbot in the monastery in Kladruby. The King had been impatiently waiting for old abbot Racek to die and had planned to use his death to appropriate the rich monastery farms and to use them to provide for the new episcopate he wanted to establish. The aim of the act was to weaken the power of the current archbishop. Jenštejn did not give the King any opportunity to carry out the plan. He initiated the election of a new abbot immediately after the death of the old one, and the election was quickly confirmed by the signature of John of Nepomuk. The King was staying at Křivoklát at that time and got the information about the death of the current abbot and about the election of the new one so late that he did not have a chance to protest against the new election. He was so embittered by what had happened that he threatened to kill the persons involved. Therefore, Jenštejn preferred to take shelter in the castle in Roudnice for some time.
Surprisingly, the King proposed conclude peace after some time and invited Jenštejn to a meeting in Prague. But before the discussion started on 20 March 1393, he ordered to capture the whole delegation. Jenštejn managed to escape but John of Nepomuk and other three men accompanying the archbishop fell into the hands of the armed men. The captives were then cruelly tortured in the reeve´s house in the Old Town. John´s body tortured to death was thrown over today´s Charles Bridge into Vltava and was found by Cyriac brothers in less than a month: it had got caught at the place of today´s Čechův most (a bridge). Only then was the body of the martyr buried in the Church of the Holy Rood (kostel sv. Kříže Většího) of the Cyriac monastery in the Old Town. The body of John of Nepomuk was probably relocated in 1396 and buried in the St. Vitus Cathedral.
The fate of the Vicar in the next few hundred years is only known from legends which have essentially contributed to the fact that his name has not been forgotten and, on the contrary, that John has become the symbol of silence and honour. John of Nepomuk has been considered the patron of the Czech country from about 1600. But he had to wait until the 18th century to be beatified and canonized. The beatification commission was only established in the summer 1715 on the basis of the decision of Prague archbishop Ferdinand, Count Khünburk. The earthly remains of John of Nepomuk were exhumed and examined four years later in April 1719. It was during the exhumation when they discovered the tissue which was mistaken for the tongue. John of Nepomuk was only beatified on 31 May 1721 by Pope Innocent XIII, and canonized on 19 March 1729 by Benedict XIII.

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The Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená hora
CZ 591 02 Žďár nad Sázavou

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