Saint Adalbert

This week in Mailbox we read from your answers to our February listeners' quiz question and announce the name of this month's winner. Listeners quoted: Gerwyn Roberts, Mick Edwards, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Gordon Martindale, Zofia Szuberla, Colin Law, Charles Konecny, Hans Verner Lollike, Kristina Pletková.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox. Once again, the time has come to disclose the identity of the mystery Czech from last month’s listeners’ quiz. The 10th century patron saint of Bohemia, Hungary, Poland and Prussia was neither St. Wenceslas, nor St. Stanislaus but rather:

“The answer is Saint Adalbert. He lived between 956 and 997. His feast day is the 23rd of April.”

...says an e-mail from Gerwyn Roberts from Wales. Mick Edwards from elsewhere in the United Kingdom wrote:

“I think the answer to the February competition is Saint Adalbert of Prague. He was born in Libice nad Cidlinou in 956 AD and was killed for cutting down oak trees in 997 AD.”

Jayanta Chakrabarty from India takes regular part in our little quizzes:

“Saint Adalbert of Prague though born of a prosperous and noble family chose a life of simplicity and charity. He devoted his whole life to the service of the Church fighting against injustice, polygamy, idolatry and the slave trade. He was single-handedly instrumental in bringing Christianity to Hungary, Poland, Bohemia and Prussia – the final place where he was martyred for daring sacrilege of the so-called sacred oak trees. Truly, Saint Adalbert is another of the great, illustrious sons of the Czech Republic.”

In some countries Adalbert is known under his birth name Vojtěch as Gordon Martindale from the UK points out:

“St Adalbert was born in Libice and his given name was ‘Vojtěch’. He received his education for the priesthood at Magdeburg under St Adalbert. When the Saint died, Vojtěch took his name.”

Zofia Szuberla, who originally comes from Poland, listens to Radio Prague in Canada:

A reliquary bust of St. Adalbert
“Saint Adalbert, also known as Swiety Wojciech in Poland, was the bishop of Prague who was murdered in Prussia in 997 (now north-east Poland close to Elblag). Since he was murdered for spreading Christianity, and as being a close friend of Otto III, he was given sainthood. His body was bought from the Prussians with gold by Boleslaw Chrobry, King of Poland, and brought back to Gniezno in Poland, where it is still buried.”

Colin Law from New Zealand explains the fate of St Adalbert’s mortal remains in more detail:

“Boleslaus I buried Adalbert's body at Gniezno, Poland, but in 1039 it was transported to Prague. There are two shrines to Saint Adalbert, in the cathedrals of Prague and Gniezno, both claim to contain his remains, and which bones are authentic is not clear. For example, the saint has two skulls – one in Prague, a second in Gniezno (stolen in 1923).”

Charles Konecny from the USA wrote:

“The thing that could be said of St. Adalbert is that he had a great love and zeal for the Church and The Holy See. He was very effective in gaining converts in whatever area of Europe he traveled although his efforts in Prussia had him killed by the pagan priests. Whether his remains are in Prague or Gniezno, Poland, there is no doubt he had great success in his efforts.”

Hans Verner Lollike from Denmark travelled near the place of the saint’s death:

“When I saw the information about [Saint Adalbert], I certainly regretted that I had not known it before, since three years ago on a car trip we visited Elblag and Kaliningrad Oblast. Now there are no Prussians left in the area. Elblag is in Poland and Kaliningrad belongs to Russia... I guess it is a good idea that he is not only protecting one nation, but rather four! That is a peace keeping gesture.”

Břevnov monastery
Kristina Pletková follows our programmes in the Czech Republic:

“St. Adalbert came out against some bad manners of the society which did not correspond with the doctrine and teaching of the Catholic Church, especially against paganism, the slave trade, priests’ marriages and widespread alcoholism. St. Adalbert was also the founder of the first monastery Břevnov in 993. His activity had been impaired by the crisis of the Czech lands and disputes between the two ruling noble families, the Přemyslid and Slavník dynasties (Adalbert himself being a member of the latter).”

Thank you very much for all your answers and your research that produced so many interesting details. And this time the Radio Prague prize goes to Aaron Tiu from the Philippines. My congratulations! Of course, there is a new question for everyone who would like to try their luck in March:

This month we are looking for the name of the physician and scholar of Slovak origin and Protestant faith who performed the first public autopsy in Prague in 1600. He was among the 27 Bohemian estates leaders executed on the Old Town Square in 1621.

Please send us your answers to [email protected] or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague by the end of March. Your questions and comments concerning our broadcasts are very welcome so please keep them coming. Until next week, happy listening.