Blessed are the Peacemakers: Sts. Wenceslaus & Gorazd

One of the saints that I particularly revere is St. Wenceslaus of the Czechs.   (Also variously called St. Vaclav, or St. Vyacheslav).   He is known as a peace loving saint, whose peaceful ways led to his brutal murder by his own brother on 28 September 935AD.    St. Wenceslaus was 32 years old when murdered on the steps of a church. 

I’ve had the blessing of being able to visit the tomb of St. Wenceslaus on several occasions and to see his relics.  The first time was in 1979 when the then Czechoslovak Republic was under communism.  Visitors were able to enter the room where his relics were kept, but veneration of the relics was not permitted.  Today, the room is sealed off and one can only view the relics from the door of the room.

The room is the same one that Reinhard Heydrich, the WWII Nazi governor of the puppet Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia entered and took the crown of Wenceslaus and placed it upon his own head seeing himself and the Nazis as the conquerors of the Czechs.   An old Czech legend says that any usurper who places the crown on his head is doomed to die within a year.  Heydrich was assassinated less than a year later by the Czech resistance.  A detailed report with many photographs about the Heydrich assassination and the Nazi reprisals which followed can be viewed here.  You can view a  You Tube film re-enacting the assault on Sts. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Cathedral where the Nazis trapped and killed the resistance members involved in the assassination.  The Cathedral now houses a national museum about the Nazi terror.

The Nazi reprisals for the assassination of Heydrich were severe, especially against the Orthodox population in Czechoslovakia whom they blamed for suporting the resistance.  The Orthodox bishop of Prague, St. Gorazd, showed himself to be a true shepherd of his flock and took complete blame for the activities of the resistance in order to spare his people.   The Nazis executed Gorazd on September 4, 1942.   He has since been canonized as a saint and martyr by the Orthodox Church. 

To the left the relics of St. Wenceslaus.

To the right a photo of the Hieromartyr Gorazd of Prague.

Like St. Wenceslaus, St. Gorazd was a true peacemaker, and he laid down his life for his friends rather than taking up arms to save himself.

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