Latin Legends of Czech Saints: Vitus, Prokop and Wenceslas


Medieval Latin legends about major figures in Czech history form a significant part of the spiritual and cultural heritage of Europe. The cult of Saint Vitus (died 305), the Christian saint and martyr, was spread throughout Central Europe by the Premyslid prince Wenceslaus (907–35), patron saint the Czech lands, supporter of Christianity, and founder of the rotunda at Prague Castle. Wenceslaus was slain by his brother Boleslav I in 935. Soon thereafter, beginning as early as the 10th century, Wenceslaus began to be venerated as a saint. His remains were laid in Saint Vitus Cathedral within Prague Castle, which became the center of the Saint Wenceslas cult. His life and death became the topic of numerous legends, including the first Old Slavic legend from the 10th century; the Latin legend Crescente fide; the so-called Gumpold's legend; and Christian's legend. Presented here is a manuscript dating from the first half of the 15th century containing the legends of three saints, Vitus, Wenceslas, and Prokop. Also known as Procopius, Prokop was the first abbot of the Sázava Monastery (circa 980‒1053). The manuscript, in black and red ink by an unknown scribe, is of Czech provenance.

Last updated: July 18, 2016