Thursday, July 30, 2009

san juan nepomoceno

A further document is the "Chronik des Deutschordens", a chronicle of the Teutonic Order compiled by John of Posilge, who died in 1405 [5].

In the above accusation John of Jenštejn already calls John of Nepomuk, “saint martyr”. In the biography of the bishop, written by his chaplain, John of Nepomuk is described as "gloriosum Christi martyrem miraculisque coruscum." Therefore the vicar put to death for defending the laws and the autonomy of the Catholic Church was revered as a saint right after his death.

[edit] Later accounts
Much additional biographical information is due to Bohemian annalists, who wrote 60 or more years after the events. Although they may have taken advantage of sources not available today, their contribution is considered legendary by many historians, particularly by the Protestant ones.

In his chronicle Chronica regum Romanorum, completed in 1459, Thomas Ebendorfer (d. 1464) states that King Wenceslaus had drowned the confessor of his wife, indicated as Magister Jan, because he had stated that only the one who rules properly deserves the name of king and had refused to betray the seal of Confession. This is the first source to mention this refusal as the true motivation of the condemnation of John of Nepomuk.
In his Instructions for the King, completed in 1471, Paul Zidek provides further details [6]. King Venceslaus was afraid that his wife had a lover. As she was used to confessing to Magister Jan, he ordered him to tell the name of the lover, but to no avail. Therefore the king ordered John to be drowned. Note that in these chronicles neither the date of the events, nor the name of the queen is mentioned.
In 1483 John of Krumlov, dean of St. Vitus cathedral, states that the Saint died in 1383 (exactly one century before, maybe due to a copying error)[7][7]. As the first wife of Venceslaus died in 1386, this change of date also causes uncertainty about the name of the queen[8].
The mistake of John of Krumlov crept into the Annales Bohemorum[9] of Wenceslaus Hajek von Liboczan (cs:Václav Hájek z Libočan, dead in 1553), the Bohemian Livy. He suggested that two Jan di Nepomuks may have existed and have been killed by King Wenceslaus. The first one is the queen's confessor, who died in 1383; the other the vicar of the archbishop, who disagreed with the king on the election of the abbot of Kladruby and was drowned in 1393. As Hajek's annals enjoyed a wide success, they influenced all subsequent historians for two centuries, up to the Latin edition, critically annotated by the translator, which considerably reduced Hajek's credit as a reliable historian.

Further and less reliable details about John of Nepomuk are provided by the annalists of the XVII and XVIII centuries. Boleslaus Balbinus, S.J., in his Vita b. Joannis Nepomuceni martyris [10] gives the most rich account.

Although the theory of Hajek von Liboczan has no credit today, some historians believe the refusal of betraying the seal of confession might have been the secret reason why Wenceslaus took vengeance on John of Nepomuk as soon as a credible excuse provided the opportunity.

[edit] A controversial figure

Monument on Cathedral Island in Wrocław, PolandJohn of Nepomuk is seen by Catholics as a martyr to the cause of defending the Seal of the Confessional, by romantic nationalists as a Czech martyr to imperial interference, and by most historians as a victim of a late version of the inveterate investiture controversy between secular rulers and the Catholic hierarchy.

The connection of John of Nepomuk with the inviolability of the confessional is part of the transformation of an historical figure into a legend, which can be traced through successive stages. The archbishop, who hastened to Rome soon after the crime, in his charge against Wenceslaus, called the victim a martyr; in the vita written a few years later miracles are already recorded, by which the drowned man was discovered. About the middle of the fifteenth century the statement appears for the first time that the refusal to violate the seal of confession was the cause of John's death. Two decades later (1471), the dean of Prague, Paul Zidek, makes John the queen's confessor. The unscrupulous chronicler Wenceslaus Hajek speaks in 1541 (probably owing to carelessness in the use of his sources) of two Johns of Nepomuk being drowned; the first as confessor, the second for his confirmation of the abbot.

The place on the bridge parapet where John of Nepomuk was thrown into the Vltava.The legend is especially indebted for its growth to the Jesuit historiographer Boleslaus Balbinus the "Bohemian Pliny,", whose Vita beati Joannis Nepomuceni martyris was published in Prague, 1670. Although the Prague metropolitan chapter did not accept the biography dedicated to it, "as being frequently destitute of historical foundation and erroneous, a bungling work of mythological rhetoric", Balbinus stuck to it. In 1683 the Charles Bridge was adorned with a statue of the saint, which has had numerous successors; in 1708 the first church was dedicated to him at Hradec Králové; a more famous Pilgrimage Church of Saint John of Nepomuk was founded in 1719.

Meanwhile, in spite of the objection of the Jesuits, the process was inaugurated which ended with his canonization. On May 31, 1721, he was beatified, and on March 19, 1729, he was canonized under Pope Benedict XIII. The acts of the process, comprising 500 pages, distinguish two Johns of Nepomuk and sanction the cult of the one who was drowned in 1383 as a martyr of the sacrament of penance.

According to some Protestant sources the figure of St. John Nepomuk is a legend due to Jesuits and its historical kernel is really Jan Hus, who was metamorphosed from a Bohemian Reformer into a Roman Catholic saint: the Nepomuk story would be based on Wenceslaus Hajek's blending of the Jan who was drowned in 1393 and the Jan who was burned in 1415. The resemblances are certainly striking, extending to the manner of celebrating their commemorations. But when the Jesuits came to Prague, the Nepomuk veneration had long been widespread; and the idea of canonization originated in opposition not to the Hussites, but to Protestantism, as a weapon of the Counter-Reformation. In the image of the saint which gradually arose, the religious history of Bohemia is reflected.

[edit] The cult
The figure of Saint John of Nepomuk is often encountered in Central and Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Poland and Lithuania. He is usually portrayed with a halo of five stars, commemorating the stars that hovered over the Vltava River on the night of his murder. Other attributes useful to identify his pictures are: a priestly dress, the palm of martyrs, carrying a cross, an angel indicating silence by a finger over the lips. His tomb, a Baroque monument cast in silver and silver-gilt that was designed by Fischer von Erlach, stands in St Vitus Cathedral, Prague. A statue of Saint John of Nepomuk has often been erected on bridges in many countries, such as on the Ponte Milvio in Rome.

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