Czechs mark St. Wenceslas Day

The statue is the work of Čeňek Vosmík, made in 1906

September 28 is St Wenceslas Day, a state holiday in the Czech Republic, marking the death of the nation's patron saint.

Wenceslas was born near Prague in 907, a son of the Duke of Bohemia. His father died in 921 and Wenceslas ruled from 922, when he was just 15 years old. He was raised as a Christian, primarily thanks to his grandmother Ludmila who had been baptised by the Greek missionaries Cyril and Methodius who brought Christianity to the region.

The reign of Wenceslas was marked by his support for the Catholic Church, his aim to unify Bohemia and make peace with Germany.

These policies created enemies within his court and even his family. His brother Boleslav was one of those who plotted against him. On the morning of September 28th 935, on his way to  mass, Wenceslas was attacked and killed by supporters of his brother.

His martyr's death lead to a cult of veneration with a number of miracles attributed to him. He was even posthumously made a king by the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I.

After Wenceslas's death, Boleslav assumed power and reigned for almost fifty years. Later in life, Boleslav clearly felt remorse or guilt for his actions and in 972 he had the first church devoted to Saint Wenceslas built in Prague.

On the Day of Czech Statehood, town halls throughout the country hold celebrations to commemorate the martyrdom of Prince Wenceslas, and thousands of people traditionally attend a pilgrimage to the town of Stará Boleslav where the murder took place.