National Pilgrimage to St. Wenceslas Regained Tradition
Stará Boleslav: On Wednesday, September 28, 2011, the ninth renewed National Pilgrimage to St. Wenceslas took place as the peak of Day of Czech Statehood. More than 3000 pilgrims from all over the Czech Republic gathered at the Marian Square in Stará Boleslav, the place of the Premyslid prince’s martyrdom. The feast day started with an early morning mass St. Wenceslas used to hear daily and two other masses before the main solemn divine service at 10 a.m. which was presided over by the Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka OP.
The Archbishop of Olomouc, Jan Graubner, held a strongly worded homily that contrasted St. Wenceslas reign of service to others with the current ways of government PR and politics. “St. Wenceslas brings encouragements to those who do not live for themselves,” he concluded. The Archbishop’s stress on the significance of traditional values was then supported by the President of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus who gave a speech at the end of the service. “Many tendencies immerging in the world and in our country today make me feel uneasy, and I believe that many of you too. I am more and more strongly convinced that we must not remain silent to them or reconcile ourselves with them,” said the president, encouraging the Church to speak up more vigorously in social discussions. Archbishop Duka then thanked the pilgrims and organizers for taking part in the Pilgrimage and to the President for his words of encouragement.
This year, the National Pilgrimage started already on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 with a newly introduced ‘prayer bridge’ that accompanied the transportation of St. Wenceslas’ skull from Prague to Stará Boleslav. All over the Czech Republic, the faithful were invited to join the new St. Wenceslaus Prayer for the Nation at 7.00 p.m. in their churches or at home.
The tradition of National Pilgrimage to the saint going back to the 14th century was interrupted by the communist regime in the 20th century. It has been renewed nine years ago by the then Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk. This year, the Archbishop Emeritus of Prague also responded to the idea of the Czech Ambassador to Vatican of renewing the tradition of St. Wenceslas Celebrations in the Papal State. Therefore, the saint’s feastday was newly also celebrated at his altar in the Vatican Basilica of St. Peter. “It is remarkable that a small nation like ours has an altar of its national patron surrounded by the first missionaries, Ss. Cyril and Methodius, in the center of the universal Catholic Church, in its main temple,” said cardinal Vlk.