Known in song and folklore as the good king, St. Wenceslaus (king and martyr) is the patron saint of the Czech Republic. He was born very early in the tenth century near the city of Prague, the son of the Duke of Bohemia. Wenceslaus was raised by his grandmother, St. Ludmilla — who tried to promote him as the ruler of Bohemia — instead of his mother Drahomira, who supported anti-Christian groups in the kingdom.
In 921 Ludmilla was murdered, but the Christian forces were nonetheless successful in the political intrigues which followed, making it possible for Wenceslaus to ascend to the throne. The young king tried to unify Bohemia, support the Church, and negotiate peace with Germany; unfortunately, his efforts met bitter opposition.
Wenceslaus’ own brother Boleslav was involved in the intrigues against him. Boleslav invited his brother to attend Mass with him, while secretly plotting an ambush. On the way to church Wenceslaus was killed by his brother’s supporters. Though both St. Ludmilla and St. Wenceslaus were killed as a result of political intrigues, and not religious persecution, they were nonetheless acclaimed as martyrs. St. Wenceslaus is a national hero in Bohemia. The famous Christmas carol about him, written by J. M. Neale, is not based on a true story.
From Johnnette Benkovic’s Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day
Brother, what are you trying to do!
— St. Wenceslaus to Boleslaus, his brother, who conspired to assassinate him
Even at the moment his brother tried to murder him, Wen-ceslaus responded with loving concern for him and his salvation. Is there a loved one from whom I am estranged or with whom there has been a rift? How is God asking me to be a peacemaker and healer of the breach? St. Wenceslaus, pray for me.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Lawrence Ruiz, Martyr, husband, father, and Companions (1633-1637), Martyrs
Bl. John of Dukla (1484), Religious