Agnes of Bohemia

Many tourists who come to Prague include a visit to St. Agnes Convent near the Vltava river in their itinerary. Although the convent itself is not located on the city's main historical route, its founder, St. Agnes of Bohemia, or Anezka Ceska in Czech, was a woman people looked up to and sought help from. In this week's Czechs in History we travel back in time - to the 13th century medieval Bohemia. By Alena Skodova.

Agnes - or Anezka - was probably born in 1211, and as we hear from Larry Cada of Czech Bishops' Conference, she was by no means a poor girl, as she was born into a royal family: It was no exception that infants or even little babies were engaged to future spouses, and Anezka was one of them. But as Larry Cada explains, none of her betrothals ended in marriage: The movement attracted many followers throughout Europe, and in order to start a new, non-rich life, and to devote herself fully to helping the poor, Agnes jilted her third fiancé: Agnes came under the strong influence of her cousin Elizabeth of Thuringia, who established a convent in the German town of Marburg, and so, Agnes decided to do the same. She founded a Franciscan convent in Prague in 1232: Agnes became poor, she gave up all her wealth and all her property and devoted herself to serving poor and sick people here in Prague. She gradually developed a reputation of being an extremely courageous and also holy woman, whom people looked up to. They all knew that she had been a royal princess, and yet she was able to give up all she had for the sake of this new way of being a Christian . After her death, she was believed to be a holy person with strong healing powers: Agnes of Bohemia was beatified in 1874 and canonized by Pope John Paul II on November 12th, 1989, just five days before the huge student demonstration in Prague that triggered the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia.