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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 28, Wenceslas, Duke of Bohemia, M, (929)

Wenceslas, Duke of Bohemia, was called of God to the hard task of defending Christianity when his subjects were just beginning to learn the Faith, and the devil’s hatred thereof was first being manifested. He was the son of a Christian father, Duke Wratislas I, and a mother, named Drahomira, who was Christian only in name. But he had in his paternal grandmother a most holy foster-mother, namely Saint Ludmilla, who trained him up in godliness. Therefore, he became a man eminent in all graces, and one who carefully kept chastity unsullied throughout the whole course of his life, and in the midst of great wickedness.
After his father’s death, his mother seized the supreme power through the foul murder of Ludmilla, and did all that she could to extirpate Christianity. But some of the nobles, wearied with her tyranny and wicked government, cast off her yoke, and hailed Wenceslas, in the city of Prague, as their ruler. At once he issued a proclamation that he would rule justly, but with mercy, and he did. To the orphaned, the widowed, and the destitute he was very charitable, so that sometimes in the winter he carried firewood to the needy on his own shoulders. He helped oftentimes to bury the poor; he set captives free ; and at the dead of night he went many times to the prisons to comfort with money and advice them that were detained therein. To a prince of so tender an heart it was a great grief to be behoven to condemn any to death, however guilty. For the Church and her clergy he had a most earnest respect, and it was his pleasure to sow and reap the corn, and press the grapes, with his own hands, wherewith to provide for the holy sacrifice. When Tadislas, Prince of Gurinna, invaded Bohemia, Wenceslas, to save the bloodshed of many, went out to meet him in single combat. Faced with such courage and goodness, his enemy bowed in reverence before him, and made with him a league of friendship. When he went to Germany, the Emperor was so impressed with his evident holiness that he arose from his throne, embraced him in his arms, decorated him with the insignia of royalty, and gifted him with relicks of the holy Martyr Vitus. Nevertheless, his godless brother, at the exhortation of their mother, sought him out in a church, where he was praying, thinking to kill him. There this unnatural brother, Boleslas, together with some accomplices in crime, wounded him with their swords. And then Boleslas despatched him with his own hand, running him through the body with a lance. He suffered a little after midnight on September 28th, 935. At once he was acclaimed by the people as a Martyr who had given his life to uphold the Faith against pagan opposition ; and since about the year 985 his feast hath been observed in Bohemia. He is considered the national patron of the Czechs.

St. Exuperius of Tolouse, BC,(410)
St. Eustochium Julia of Rome, V, (420)
St. Lioba of Mainz, V, (781)
Collect: O God, who through the victory of martyrdom didst exalt thy blessed Saint Wenceslas from his earthly principality to the glory of thy heavenly kingdom: we pray thee, at his intercession, to defend us against all adversities, and to suffer us to rejoice in his eternal fellowship, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.


Good King Wenceslas look'd out,
On the Feast of Stephen;
When the snow lay round about,
Deep, and crisp, and even:
Brightly shone the moon that night,
Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
Gath'ring winter fuel.

"Hither page and stand by me,
If thou know'st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence.
Underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence,
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh, and bring me wine,
Bring me pine-logs hither:
Thou and I will see him dine,
When we bear them thither."
Page and monarch forth they went,
Forth they went together;
Though the rude winds wild lament,
And the bitter weather.

"Sire, the night is darker now,
And the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go on longer."
"Mark my footsteps, good my page;
Tread thou in them boldly;
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod,
Where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod
Which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
Shall yourselves find blessing.

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