CZECH SAINT ANEZKA (Agnes)
She was the youngest daughter of King Premysl Otakar II. and of his wife Constance of Hungary. Anezka spent her childhood with her sister Anna in a convent in Poland where she received a rather good education. Later her father brought her to another monastery in Doksany, but she did not stay there very long. In those days it was customary to arrange “betrothals” of young princes and princesses for political and monetary reasons. Thus Anezka was betrothed at 3 years of age , but after her “fiance” had died, she was- at age 8- betrothed to Jindrich, the son of Emperor Fridrich II. and later, after much negotiating, to Fridrich II. himself. Eventually Anezka refused to marry anyone, applied to the Pope for protection and entered a Franciscan monastery in Prague.
She devoted her life to improve the convent, and over time built- with the help of her brother Vaclav- three churches and more convent buildings for men and women near the river Vltava opposite the royal castle. The first sisters for the women’s convent came directly from Assisi. According to historical sources, the glorious opening of the convent and Anezka’s initiation was attended by seven bishops, by members of the royal family and by other important noblemen.
There are many legends about her life – working peacefully in her garden and kitchen. In reality the times were rather turbulent. She was is contact with St. Clara and while trying to continue to fulfill all the duties of her order, she felt that she also needed to influence other developments in her country. She founded another religious order- namely the Knights of the Cross. Some of the original buildings of the convent still stand together with the baroque church of St. Francis near Charles Bridge.
All of her life bears witness to Anezka’s wisdom, sense of beauty and of understanding of human weaknesses and passions. She lived through many horrors and deprivations and died from hunger, exhaustion and in the midst of poverty of her people. Eventually even her grave - which was supposed to have miraculous powers- disappeared from the surface of the earth. For a long time it was believed that finding Anezka’s grave would bring happiness and prosperity to the Czech nation.
Many powerful people tried to have her canonized – including Eliska of the Premyslid Dynasty, Charles IV., and Vaclav IV. Eventually she was proclaimed a saint by Pope Jan Pavel II on November 12, 1989- 707 years after her death.Jana Volfova
Abbreviated by Marie Dolanska
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