drew St. Agnes away
pleasure of royalty,
the lowly way of the cross
her on the path of perfection.
Grant that in imitation of her
we may depreciate transitory things
and always strive
those of heaven.
Through Christ our Lord.
1211, Agnes of Prague (also known as Agnes of Bohemia) was the daughter of
King Premysl Ottokar I and Queen Constance of
Hungary. “The Princess” grew up
with all the privileges and problems of royalty.
While sons were preferred as future heirs, marriageable daughters
were considered a great asset for securing powerful political alliances.
had several relatives who, even during her lifetime, were known for their
St. Hedwig of
was her aunt; St. Elizabeth of
Hungary, her cousin.
Yet the pursuit
of sanctity had no place in King Ottokar’s plans for his daughter.
Ottokar’s only goal was to see that the Princess married well.
Thus he began negotiations for her betrothals when Agnes was only
three years old.
again his efforts failed.
came the proposal to satisfy all the king’s ambitions: Emperor Frederick
II asked for Agnes’ hand.
the midst of this royal match-making, the Franciscan friars arrived in
Prague. Agnes was fascinated.
Their love for Christ, their poverty, their simplicity, their joy
– were not these the treasures of a more enduring Kingdom?
The friars told her of the vocation of Lady Clare and her Sisters.
Was not their enclosed life of prayer and penance a fruit of the
nuptial love for which the Princess yearned?
knew that she could give her hand to no earthly king – for the King of
heaven had already claimed her heart.
When Emperor Frederick continued to press her, Agnes appealed to
the Pope who commended and confirmed her decision to follow Christ in the
footsteps of Clare of Assisi.
with papal approbation of the Princess’ plans, the emperor grudgingly
the spring of 1234, St. Clare sent five nuns from the monastery of
to help Agnes and her companions establish the first monastery of the Poor
Prague. There Agnes, now the Queen
and bride of the King of heaven,
until her death on
March 2, 1282.
The holiness of the Princess
was well known.
political unrest which marked her life continued, delaying Agnes’
canonization for centuries. A tradition grew among the people of
that when the Princess was canonized, something wonderful would happen.
November 12, 1989, Saint Pope John Paul II canonized Agnes in
Rome. Nine days later, her
nation’s Communist government resigned and, without violence or
bloodshed, freedom was restored.
Princess had not forgotten her people… and neither had the Divine King.