Prague Minos Guide

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13. století

Saint Agnes of Bohemia

Canonized Czech abbess and princess
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She was the youngest daughter of King Premyslid Ottokar I and one of the most significant women in the Premyslid dynasty. Abbess and founder of the new order of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star, she was eventually beatified and canonized by Pope John Paul II in the year 1989. Agnes was prepared since childhood for a life as an embellishment of prominent European princely courts. She was raised in a Cistercian monastery, where she gained a good education while at the same time developing a close relationship to nun-hood. When Agnes got engaged to a prince with the highest of ranks, the 9 year-old son of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, the Austrian princely court of Leopold VI became her home, and there she dedicated to preparing for her future role as an Empress. But through schemes and stratagems, Leopold managed to push forth his own daughter Margaret, and Fredrick’s son, Henry, eventually gave her his preference. Agnes was then to become the wife of the English King Henry III, but in 1229 this plan too fell through. Agnes’ last suitor was Emperor Fredrick II. Her brother, Wenceslas I, left the decision up to her, but as she was disgusted

by all the royal scheming she turned him down. Agnes became fully devoted to charity-related activities and involved in churchly affairs. She founded the Hospital of St. Francis in Prague and entered the convent of Clare nuns, where she soon became the Mother Superior. She even partook in the foundation of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star in the year 1252. Despite all her charity and religious activities she was always involved in the affairs of her family and vivaciously took part in family politics. In 1249 she strongly engaged in the conciliation between her brother, Wenceslas, and her favorite nephew, Premyslid Ottokar II. She was always on the side of family and she even had the courage to not comply with Church directives, if they were launched against her own family, thus making it clear where her loyalty lied. Following her death she was replaced by her grandniece Kunigunda. Shortly after her death, Agnes was already much respected and legends of her benevolence quickly spread. Even though Charles IV attempted to have her canonized, her beatification didn’t take place until 1874 and she was canonized at the end of the 20th century.


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