Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Notes on the Memorial of St. Wenceslaus.

Today the Church remembers St. Wenceslaus, a 10th-century Bohemian ruler whose efforts to spread the Christian faith in his domain brought about his martyrdom. In the English-speaking world, St. Wenceslaus is perhaps best known as the subject of the Victorian Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas." Today's memorial means something to me this year because it evokes memories of St. Wenceslaus Church, a small country parish on Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula that I visited this summer during my stay at Villa Marquette in Omena. I owe my acquaintance with St. Wenceslaus to my brother novice Jim Shea, who discovered the tiny brick church by happenstance and was so taken with what he found that he later took me to see it. St. Wenceslaus can be found at the intersection of two winding country roads at the center of Leelanau County. The parish sits on one of several rolling hills sparsely dotted with farmhouses, barns and silos. Unlike most churches nowadays, the doors at St. Wenceslaus were unlocked the day that Jim and I visited, so we took a look inside. St. Wenceslaus has a bright and fairly simple interior; the stained glass windows bear the names of the parish's Bohemian founding families - names like Kalchik, Kolarik and Korson. The same names appear on many of the antique iron grave markers and headstones in the parish cemetery beside the church; surprisingly, among the graves of many Bohemian immigrants and their descendants lies buried a European nobleman - Stefan Habsburg-Lothringen, Archduke of Austria. Given that Bohemia was long part of the Austrian Empire, the fact that a member of the Habsburg family is buried in a cemetery named for a saint who ruled as Duke of Bohemia seems oddly appropriate. All in all, I was really charmed by St. Wenceslaus Church, and I'm grateful to Jim for sharing the place with me. If you'd like to learn more about this neat little church, take a look at this interesting article from a Traverse City magazine. On this day in honor of St. Wenceslaus, I'll be thinking of and praying for the Leelanau County parish that bears his name. AMDG.

1 Comments:

At September 29, 2005 6:16 PM, Blogger Richard said...

Cool post. I also have a connection to St. Wenceslaus - this was the parish in Chicago that I was part-time organist during high school.

 

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