Saint Agnes of Bohemia, true story of a special, unconventional medieval princess who changed the rules and who created a better world for her people. Legends of saints.
Why was Saint Agnes so special?
Agnes was a notable medieval personality who made great contributions in the area of charitable care, diplomacy and in art. She also had good knowledge about the cultural and social life in the world.
Fate of a medieval princess was simple: to marry an impotant man and to bring a poweful ally to her family.
Agnes of Bohemia was a powerful, rich, well educated and beautiful medieval woman who decided to break chains of the medieval marriage game and she decided to find her own way to live.
It was common in medieval times that nobility and even kings were illiterate. Agnes was able to write in a several languages, she was also specialist for diplomacy, art and medical care.
Life of Saint Agnes
Agnes was born in Prague in 1211. Agnes was daughter of Premysl Ottokar I., Czech king and Queen Constance, the sister of King Andrew II of Hungary.
Agnes was a direct descendant of the two Czech saints: Saint Wenceslas, Saint Ludmila and she was also cousin of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.
Agnes was a valuable pawn in the royal marriage game.
Agnes was engaged to Hedwig and Henry’s son Boleslav. After Boleslav died, Agnes returned to Prague at the age of six.
At the age of eight, she was engaged to Henry, son of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Henry was ten years old and had just been crowned Henry VII of Germany, King of the Romans. According to custom, Agnes should have spent her childhood at her future husband’s court, so they could develop a friendship, as well as learn the language and culture of her new country. Emperor Frederick II, King of Sicily, had his court in Palermo, while his son Henry, now the German king, was being brought up in Germany at the archbishop Engelbert’s residence in Cologne.
Agnes was also sent to the court of Leopold VI of Babenberg as a future wife of his son.
Otakar also planned for her to marry Henry III of England. Even this marriage has been cancelled.
Works of Agnes of Bohemia
Agnes refused to play any more part in a politically arranged marriage game. She decided to devote her life to her people, to her country and to religious works. She got a great support from her family, from Pope Gregory IX and from Saint Clare of Assisi (French saint).
She became a member of the Franciscan Poor Clares, a religious order founded by Saint Clare of Assisi (with whom she corresponded for over two decades but never met in person). On land donated by her brother, Wenceslaus I, she founded the Hospital of St. Francis (ca. 1232-33) and two convents where the Franciscan friars and Clare nuns who worked at the hospital resided. This religious complex was one of the first Gothic buildings in Prague. Taking the vow of poverty, she cooked for and took care of the lepers and paupers personally, even after becoming the Mother Superior of the Prague Clares in 1234.
Saint Agnes convent Prague
Agnes also found a Military Knight order: the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star so she is the only woman founder of the military order in history.
Men in life of Agnes
Agnes was a little lucky. She had two powerful men who always respected her wishes and decisions and who were always on her side.
Premysl Ottokar I, father of Agnes, king of Czech
Premysl Ottokar I
Vaclav I (Wenceslas I), brother of Agnes, next king of Czech
Vaclav was famous king knight who enjoyed battles, wars and medieval tournaments. It was common he came to Agnes to consult his strategy and important political decisions. This fact was pretty unconvential in medieval times because opinion of a woman, even princess has no importance in those dark ages. It was different in case of this woman.
Saint Agnes-Symbol of Czech Velvet Revolution in 1989
Although she was venerated soon after her death, Agnes was not beatified or canonized for over 700 years.
Agnes was one of the symbols of the Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia (November 1989) were the communist regime has been peacefully overthrown.
Lets imagine that Czechoslovakia was surrounded by iron curtain when Pope John Paul II formally canonized Blessed Agnes. It was nearly impossible for Czechoslovaks to get over the iron wall however the commies allowed 10 000 people to visit the Vatican to celebrate the canonization of Agnes. It was a small miracle for many people and an impulse to get freedom.
Saint Agnes canonization in Rome in 1989
Saint Agnes legend
Saint Agnes remais were lost during Hussite wars in 15th century. A well known legend says that Czech state will prosper at the time her body remains will be found.
Legacy of Saint Agnes of Bohemia
Czechs are one of the less religious nation in Europe but Saint Agnes is a very important person for them.
Saint Agnes is a symbol of strong will because she was able to break her fate.
Saint Agnes is a symbol of uncorrupted power and influence used for good of her people.
No matter Agnes lived 800 years ago, she is still inspiration for many people.
Agnes was a beautiful princess but she was definitely not a classical babe, she was a miraculous person who was able to make the dark medieval world a better a place.
Do you know a better princess?
Pictures of Saint Agnes of Bohemia
Saint Agnes by Rhoden
Saint Agnes of Bohemia-with Czech Royal lion
Saint Agnes Statue in Prague
Saint Agnes of Bohemia, Premyslid princess
Saint Agnes on 50 Czech crowns (CZ currency)