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Published: October 5th 2014
The martyrdom of John of Nepomuk
As depicted in St. Peter's, Vienna (Austria)
Our good friend and travel buddy, Karen (see previous travel blogs for Great Britain 2013 and China 2011), often talks about having a theme for a trip. While we didn't have one planned for this trip, a theme emerged early on in the form of depictions of St. John of Nepomuk. As you know from the first post, we learned about him during our first visit to Prague, where his statue dominates the Charles Bridge the site of his drowning in 1383 on the orders of King Vaclav (Wenceslas) IV. What we didn't realize until we got about the countryside on the bikes is that he is a very popular saint in Central Europe and, in an area where statues and pictures of saints are seen more frequently than anyplace else we've been, he one of the most commonly depicted.
We likely rode by his likeness on each of our 29 cycling days (the last of which was yesterday; more on that later). It's easy to recognize John of Nepomuk -- the 5 stars in the halo (representing the 5 stars that appeared the moment he hit the bottom of the Vltava River), the crucifix he's cradling, which he's givng
a lovng gaze, the four-cornered hat chracteristic of priestly wear during his time, the beard or moustache, among other details. Although none of the statues or paintings has all the details in the same way, he is easy to spot. It's fun to be able to recognize one of the saints and have this sort of a friend along the way.
There are a number of reasons for his popularity. One is that he's thought to be the patron saint of bridges, because of where he met his demise, and also supposedly helps ward off floods, although the reason for that is harder to understand. At any rate, we saw him frequently on bridges along the Danube and other rivers. Because of both the propensity for flooding in our home town of Mount Vernon on Skagit and the problems our state has with bridges (see Tacoma Narrows Bridge 1940, Hood Canal Floating Bridge 1980, I-5 Skagit River Bridge 2013, among thers), we can imagine his statue out on one of the sides of the bridge to West Mount Vernon, helping to assure that the new flood wall will do its job and that the bridge will also withstand the
next deluge. He was originally promoted by the leaders of the Church, apparently, because of his refusal to reveal the queen's confession to King Vaclav. He therefore represents making the ultimate sacrifice in support of the sanctity of the confesssion. Not only is this a key pillar of the Catholic Church, but it's relevant generally today when we are all concerned about government intrusion into our private communications. So, for a number of reasons, he's relevant and worthy of our admiration.
This morning finds us in Benesov, a nondescript small city about 30 miles from Prague, with a convenient railroad station. Having completed just about 1,000 miles of cycling in all and wshing to avoid another difficult ride into a large city, we decided that yesterday would be our last cycling day and that we and our bikes will ride the train the rest of the way in a few hours. We have a small apartment reserved there and are looking forward to a few more days of relaxation and touring that wonderful city before heading back home. We'll post again with information about our last few (hilly) cycling days along with interesting stuff about Prague, we hope. Meanwhile,
with this post we have included some of our photos of John of Nepomuk taken all all along the way, including at least one from each of the 5 countries we visited and one from Day 1 and one from Day 29. Hope you enjoy them.
Tot: 0.995s; Tpl: 0.091s; cc: 18; qc: 101; dbt: 0.0533s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb