New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Sunday, September 28, 2008

St. Wenceslas - 28th September 2008

Today we celebrate the feast of St Wenceslas. Let us read the biographical account and the commentary about this saint from Dr. Plinio Correa


(Statue of St Wenceslas)

Duke, sovereign and patron saint of Bohemia, Wenceslas practiced the most beautiful virtues. He conserved intact all his life the treasure of virginity. His brother Boleslas, inspired by his own mother, murdered him as he prayed one night before the tabernacle in the palace chapel. Hungary, Poland and Bohemia all chose him as their patron saint.

St. Wenceslas is one of the most brilliant lights of the 10th century, called the iron century. Grandson of a saint and son of a fanatical pagan mother, he was the purest expression of the Christian royalty of his epoch. His royal birth ensured him the highest honors and made him the lieutenant of Christ and His authentic representative on earth.

As chief of the great Bohemian family, the king was the father of his people, and all - from greatest to smallest - had the right to appeal to his justice. King Wenceslas was known as the irrefutable arbiter of justice whose decisions were unmarked by personal interest. Indeed, having received everything from God, he gave no account for his actions to any save God. He became known as a great peacemaker in the many disputes of his people with the aim of uniting all in the common good. He ended his short term as King by receiving the crown of martyrdom.

The fame of the virtues St. Wenceslas spread everywhere. He was admired and beloved throughout Christendom. He was known as a friend of his people, dedicated to the service of his nation, austere and generous, protector of the poor, defender of the Faith, and a faithful subject of the Church. He was also a fearless and loyal warrior.

In 961 Emperor Otto I of Germany called Wenceslas to the Diet of Worms and conferred every attention on him. One day Wenceslas was at prayer in church and lost track of the time. When he finally arrived at the assembly, the Emperor and other Princes, irritated by his delay, had resolved to not rise at his entrance, as was the custom for sovereigns.

When the Duke appeared at the threshold of the hall, however, the nobles saw that he was flanked by two Angels. Overcome by admiration and respect, the Emperor stood to receive him and gave him the place of honor at his right. How could the nobles deny this honor to him when the Angels themselves paid him their respects? As a sign of his consideration, the Emperor gave him two precious relics: an arm of St. Vitus and the bones of another valiant warrior-sovereign, St. Sigismund, King of Burgundy.


(Altar of St. Wenceslas by Angelo Caroseli, 1627-30)


Comments of Prof. Plinio:


This last episode is so expressive that it surpasses anything else in the selection. So I will analyze it.

Let us recompose the scene. Wenceslas was the Duke and King of Bohemia, and he probably had some authority in Poland, since this nation also took him as their patron. Thus his government covered a large territory. The highest Princes in the Holy Roman German Empire were called together to meet at the Diet of Worms. Wenceslas was also invited to this Diet, since his territories were probably subject in some way to the Holy Empire. It was a very important meeting because it was not just a gathering of a King with his subjects, but a meeting where the Emperor met with Kings and Sovereigns. It was an assembly of sovereigns, manly and courteous.

There was a beautiful custom already established at that time. When a sovereign would enter, even if he had a lower standing than the Emperor, all the sovereigns present - including the Emperor - would rise. In this particular case, since Wenceslas was late, the other sovereigns decided to not pay him this tribute. He was late because he was praying in the church. But there is an infallible rule: those who do not pray much take a stern attitude toward those who do. Whenever they can, they take their revenge. So, those nobles, who probably knew that the Bohemian King had lost track of time in prayer, resolved to punish him. To teach him a lesson, they would remain seated when he entered.

How did Divine Providence respond to this decision? God sent two Angels to accompany him, so that when he entered the hall all the nobles gathered there saw them flanking St. Wenceslas. Thus, instead of meeting disgrace, the Saint was covered with glory and honor. The Emperor gave him two precious relics, one of a Warrrior King who, like St. Wenceslas, had defended the Faith. How many beautiful things there are in this episode!

Just one question remains to be answered: Why don’t things like this happen today? Why don’t we have manifestations of the supernatural that cover the good with glory and smash the evil?

It is because the sins of mankind have reached such an apex that men no longer deserve such apparitions. The Angels who accompanied St. Wenceslas were not there principally for him, who probably did not even see them, but for the public who witnessed the miracle. It was for the good of others that they appeared. Today the public do not deserve such marvels. If Angels were to appear, they would most probably raise hatred in the onlookers, who would not change their positions. The hearts of the public today are as hard as stones, a state that only a chastisement can change.

When miracles like these no longer happen, it is the sign that Divine Providence has abandoned a certain people, a particular cycle of civilization, an historic era. Instead, it becomes marked by the sign of punishment.

Let us pray to St. Wenceslas to be prepared for the chastisements predicted by Our Lady of Fatima so that mankind will enter another age where God will be honored and glorified and miracles will again take place.

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