Wednesday, January 05, 2011

King Wesceslas

Peter and the King, the story I've been posting for the last three days, is based on the carol Good King Wesceslas.   King Wesceslas was a real person named Saint Wesceslas I, Duke of Bohemia. He was canonized by the Catholic Church and is the Czech patron saint.

So what is the moral of the story? Follow in your king’s footsteps, even if you don’t quite understand where you are going or what he is leading you to do. When you do, you will be equipped and strengthened for the journey. It isn’t always easy, but when you do it, you will be blessed by grace.

Within a few decades of Wenceslas's death four biographies of him were in circulation. These … had a powerful influence on the High Middle Ages conceptualization of the rex justus, or "righteous king"—that is, a monarch whose power stems mainly from his great piety…

Referring approvingly to these hagiographies, the chronicler Cosmas of Prague, writing in about the year 1119, states:

But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.  (Quote from Wikipedia)
I don’t know about serving in bare feet, but the quote reminds me of this passage from James:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)



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