Karlstejn chapel consecrated after 19 years

Few foreign tourists come to the Czech Republic without visiting that gem of Czech castles, Karlstejn, just 30 km west of Prague. The castle was built in the second half of the 14th century by Bohemian King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, with the castle's Chapel of the Holy Rood intended to house the imperial coronation jewels. After 19 years of restoration work, the chapel has once again been opened to the public and consecrated. Vladimir Tax reports.

Charles IV had Karlstejn castle built between 1348 and 1357, for the safekeeping of the coronation jewels and his collection of holy relics, including a splinter of wood from Jesus's Cross. The Chapel of the Holy Rood, located in the main tower of the castle, served as a vault for the coronation jewels. Its walls are inlaid with semi-precious stones and bear the famous series of 129 paintings of saints by Master Theodoricus. The Chapel underwent much-needed restoration work over the past 19 years during which it was closed to visitors.

On Monday, the head of the Czech Catholic Church, Cardinal Miroslav Vlk, re-consecrated the chapel, 640 years after the chapel was first consecrated by Charles IV's friend and mentor, Prague Archbishop Arnold of Pardubice. Cardinal Vlk suggested that the Karlstejn chapel was possibly the holiest place in Bohemia and recalled that Charles IV had a cross erected there as a symbol of humbleness, sacrifice and love for others. And according to the dean of the Karlstejn chapter, Pavel Grimmig, the chapel is a place of immense historic, cultural and spiritual value, retaining the spirit of Charles IV, an emperor beloved by the Czech nation and respected ever since.

And let me just add that you can see a reproduction of the Karlstejn Chapel of the Holy Rood in the Czech pavilion at Expo 2000 in the German city of Hannover.

For more on Karlstejn and other Czech castles, go to: www.zamky-hrady.cz/index-e.htm.