Saint Adalbert of Prague, Bishop, Martyr

Saint Adalbert of Prague, Bishop, Martyr

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April 23

Today is the feast day of Saint Adalbert.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Adalbert was born in Bohemia, of noble parentage, about the middle of the tenth century. In childhood he was taken by a fatal illness and his parents made a vow to the Holy Virgin to offer him to the priesthood if he would be cured. Their prayers were answered, and the boy recovered his health. (3)

His father, a Slavonian, sent him to study at Magdeburg, under the care of the Archbishop Adalbert; who placed him in a school, under the direction of a holy monk, named Odericus, where the pupils, by serious attention to their studies, and most exemplary morals, edified one another. (1)

Saint Adalbert, having remained nine years in this school, made considerable progress in human sciences, but still more in the science of the saints; for whatever time was allowed for recreation, he spent in holy prayer, in relieving the poor, and visiting the sick. Having made a copious collection of books, consisting chiefly of the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, he returned to Bohemia, and entered the ecclesiastical state at Prague. Diethmar, bishop of that city, was greatly enamored of his virtue, and ordained him sub deacon shortly before his death. (1)

He became Bishop of Prague, when he was obliged to flee on account of the enmity he had aroused by his efforts to reform the clergy of his diocese. He betook himself to Rome, and when released by Pope John XV from his episcopal obligations, withdrew to a monastery and occupied himself in the most humble duties of the house. (2)

His first intention was to make a pilgrimage on foot to the Holy Land; but on his arrival at Mount Cassino, the Abbot and some of the monks induced him to remain with them for some time, until it became known who he was; whereupon the holy bishop proceeded to Rome, and, by the advice of the Pope, received the religious habit in the monastery of St. Alexis, in the year 900. Here he lived in tranquility for three years and a half, until the Duke of Bohemia, moved by the wretched state of the Church at Prague, induced the Pope to send him back. (1)

Upon his return, the most ample promises of obedience were made, but never fulfilled. So the saint again abandoned his rebellious flock, and went to preach the Gospel to the idolaters of Hungary. His success here, however, was not proportionate to his zeal; and the Bohemians continuing as obstinate as ever, he again returned to his monastery at Rome.

Upon his return, the most ample promises of obedience were made, but never fulfilled. So the saint again abandoned his rebellious flock, and went to preach the Gospel to the idolaters of Hungary. His success here, however, was not proportionate to his zeal; and the Bohemians continuing as obstinate as ever, he again returned to his monastery at Rome.

He was obliged by the Pope to repair a second time to Prague. The saint set out in obedience to this command; but being informed that his ungrateful flock had shown their implacable hatred of him by murdering his bothers, he requested the Duke of Poland to ascertain whether they were willing to receive him. The Bohemians replied: “Adalbert is a saint, and we are sinners; so it is impossible to expect that we can live quietly together.” The saint took this as a sufficient exoneration from the solicitude of his Church, and went to undertake the conversion of the pagans who were then in Prussia. (1)

On a missionary trip to Prussia he converted some of the inhabitants of Danzig. It was there that he met his death when a group of pagans attacked him. When he received the first blow, he thanked God for giving him the opportunity to suffer for Him. Then the pagan priest leading the idolaters pierced his body with a two-headed lance, saying: “Be joyous, then, since you want nothing more than to suffer with your Christ.” It was April 23, 997.  (3)

His feast is celebrated 23 April, and he is called the Apostle of Prussia. Boleslas I, Prince of Poland, is said to have ransomed his body for an equivalent weight of gold. He is thought to be the author of the war-song, “Boga-Rodzica”, which the Poles used to sing when going to battle. (2)

Image: St Adalbert, artist: Mihály Kovács, circa 1855. (4) 

Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff.

  1. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/saint-adalbert.html
  2. http://www.nobility.org/2014/04/21/adalbert-nobility/
  3. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j069sdAldalbert4-23.htm
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Szt-adalbert.jpg

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